Tag Archives: backstory

Wherever I May Roam

Working on this Chaos Breacher reminded me of this guy who’s been lingering at the back of the shelf in dusty shame for far too long. He’s a model with a long and storied history but one which never really seemed to find a home in the Beasts of Ruin – until now. In many ways that nomadic shifting as he’s moved from one role to another in the army may have been unconsciously reflected the background I wrote for him.
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I decided to make this mysterious killer after reading the description of Wulfrik the Wanderer in the Warriors of Chaos Army Book. Naming him Kogoroth the Faceless I see him as having suffered a similar fate to Wulfrik, cursed by the gods to wander the galaxy in search of fresh adversaries. Hence his striding pose and faceless helm, the aim being to keep him somewhat anonymous, a silent, unknown but murderous figure, constantly on the move in his quest for fresh kills. The mask also serves to reinforce the mystery behind his title “the Faceless” – is it because his face is never seen or does it refer to something fouler hidden behind that steel grill? Or did he once lose face in a more figurative sense – fleeing from a challenge and cursed to wander forever as penance?
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At first I intended him to be the leader of my Khorne Berserkers, but he never really fitted there (appearing neither Khornate, nor particularly berserk). I retired the model half-finished and replaced him with Magok Bloodcaller instead.
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Given that, especially in the early days, 40k included a lot of elements from Warhammer translated into the far future I kept toying with the idea of making a 40k incarnation of Wulfrik – although, as the Games Workshop designers probably also found, the idea had by then evolved into its own creature. I finished the model off, intending him to be a Chaos Lord, but was never quite convinced by him in this role either. Wulfrik, after all, has a pirate crew to lead and so should Kogoroth be a leader of men – albeit a strange and singular one – rather than a lonely killer. Thus he was consigned to an uncertain fate at the back of the shelf. Some of you may find this a little odd, that my inability to work out a suitable piece of background fiction for a model should see it effectively kicked out of the army. What can I say – I’m clearly a little eccentric!

Anyway, with my Breacher squad I finally had a role for him as their Sergeant. It also adds to the background of the squad, a band of roving mercenaries, serving alongside their Gods-cursed master for centuries – perhaps even since the day they fled with the rest of Horus’s routed horde from before the walls of the Emperor’s Palace on Terra itself? For him Kalamoon Kell and the Beasts of Ruin provide just another opportunity to find battle and seek redemption in their enemies’ blood. Alas the Gods are uncaring and, having turned their backs on him, will never relent. There shall be no daemonhood for Kogoroth, only battle until war at last puts an end to his quest forever.
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The end result of this is not only that I have a model, and a story, that I’m really rather pleased with for but also that I’ve started thinking about how other Warhammer characters could provide inspiration in 40k. The story of Vilitch the Curseling is one I especially enjoy, and it helps that I really like the model as well. Sayl the Faithless and his spawn Nightmaw, from the Tamurkhan book, would be pretty fun (what is it with me and treacherous wizards?) Oh and maybe I could build a hugely mutated Ogren King based off Throgg (perhaps with an enhanced cybernetic brain to explain why he’s smarter than the average bear?). Then there’s the question of how one would tackle the likes of Galrauch (mutated Heldrake? Possessed giant Eldar reptile? Twisted wraithbone construct with a Tzeentchian daemon trapped inside?) or Kholek Suneater (maybe an ancient Forgefiend or similar daemon-engine – pre-Heresy of course!) Who knows what the possibilities are?

Have you transferred a character from Warhammer to 40k – or vice versa (daemons don’t count!)? Does Imperial Governor Karl Franz lead the massed forces of the Astra Militarum from atop his cyber-griffon in your army? Do you have an Eldar Tyrion, or a Archon Malekith ? A Von Carstein inquisitor perhaps? How about Ungrim Ironfist leading a Squat army in search of glorious vengeance against the Tyranids or Durthu as a strange wraith-bone construct, grown from the heart of a shattered craftworld? Well don’t keep it to yourself, get your thoughts (and links) in the comment box below!

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Master of Disharmony

This model has been waiting for me to write a blog on it for absolutely ages. Before Kell was built he ruled the Beasts of Ruin and it’s about time I showed him off.
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I built Byatis, as I named him, a couple of years ago to be the leader of my Chaos Marines and although Kell has now supplanted him in command of the growing army he remains a real favourite of mine and a centre-piece of the collection.
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The daemon prince model has as many detractors as it does fans, and although I fall firmly into the latter camp I’ve always reckoned that the head looks a little goofy. Possibly used on other models they could look fierce and imposing but on the daemon prince itself I feel they weaken the look of the whole model. Rather than make do with a sub-standard coupon I managed to lay my hands on this suitably monstrous bonce instead (from the Beastmen Minotaurs kit).
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As usual I wanted to come up with some kind of background story for the model, explaining who he is and how he fits in with the rest of the Beasts of Ruin warband. As a result I’ve given a lot of thought to who Byatis was before he became a daemon prince but in the end I’ve stuck with my initial gut feeling, that he started out as an apothecary from the Blood Angels chapter. Why I came up with this is a good question – and quite what a Blood Angel was doing amongst the nascent Hawkmoths is another. It may be that he was seconded to the chapter to assist during their early days or in the service of a dept – although it rather lends weight to my idea that the Hawkmoths are a Blood Angels successor. One possibility I keep playing with is the idea that a cabal of Blood Angels apothecaries attempted to find a cure for their genetic curse by experimenting in secret on an unwitting successor chapter. Assuming for a moment that this was the case, and that the experiment was abandoned, the result would be that the Hawkmoths, orphaned sons of Sanguinius, developed as a chapter ignorant of their genetic history. Imagine what that would do to them. The source of their battle-rages, the loss of some brothers to incurable fury, the haunting visions that might plague them as they go to war – all this would be a mystery to them. The fate of the Crimson Sabres in the official cannon certainly serves to show that nothing good can come from suffering this kind of thing. Of course the honourable Blood Angels would never allow their brothers to suffer such a fate unaided – unless of course they were ignorant of it. What if the secret was buried forever because those very few who knew it were murdered by one of their own?
This might also serve to explain why an apothecary would give up his role as a healer and instead dedicate himself to Khorne. The traditional gods of choice for apothecaries gone bad are Nurgle (a disease that cannot be cured – a desperate man – a whispered promise from the darkness for power over all illness – you know how this one goes) or Slaanesh (access to all those drugs!). Even Tzeentch might make sense (it’s a thinking man’s profession after all) but Khorne? However a Blood Angel, living with a constant fear of the Black Rage and the horror of having it consume him with his work unfinished, might justify all kinds of grim self-medication – maintaining control by his fingernails alone – until a chemical cocktail is all that holds in check the rising tide of his fury. In desperation he might cry out, and Khorne would offer him a boon, mastery of the rage within him in exchange for the blood of his brothers.

Anyway, cheers for looking and as ever any thoughts or comments are welcome in the box below.


Wake Up Dead

Here we go with Part 3 of this little foray into the archives of my Space Marine collection. Something new next time I promise!
Anyway, (somewhat inspired by all the undead activity going on at the moment thanks to the return of Nagash to Warhammer) this time it’s the turn of the Legion of the Damned. I’m something of a fan of 40K’s most mysterious Space Marines (that’s right, even more than the Dark Angels). Who doesn’t love ghostly warriors returning to fight alongside their brothers once more, then vanishing like smoke when the battle is done? Of course the true nature of the Legion of the Damned is anyone’s guess (my suggestion is the ghosts of warriors from the Great Crusade/Heresy era – after all they’re not called the Chapter of the Damned now are they? Maybe even the spirits of those warriors betrayed to their deaths in the Isstvan system). Wherever they come from it got me thinking about how my Hawkmoths chapter, desperately short of allies, might find their numbers bolstered by the spirits of the battle brothers Kell and his traitors slaughtered, returning in search of vengeance.
Here’s the sergeant in charge of the squad.
space-marine-convert-or-die-14To many it seems that these ghostly warriors share a connection to Librarian Numitor, often manifesting in battles where he is present and lingering around him as they are drawn back into the shadows. Some suggest that the enigmatic librarian has found some way to tap into the psychic need of his chapter to enact revenge, and by this means has allowed his dead brothers to resume their physical form, albeit only temporarily. Yet if this is true then the tainted dead crave vengeance even more so than their living comrades and hunger restlessly in the Immaterium, begging, commanding and cajoling by turns, scratching constantly at the psychic barriers the Librarian has erected between his mind and the Warp.
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space-marine-convert-or-die-10Here’s a ‘rear view’ of the models showing the spinal forms growing through their powerarmour.
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Long term I have a pipe dream of making a whole army of undead Space Marines, complete with some kind of Vampire Lord as a Chaptermaster, ghostly Librarians projecting their spirits from the Warp, and only the Dreadnaughts “alive”, still guiding their chapter from beyond the grave (although this ambition may have to wait until I’m old, decadent and rich). Additionally, although regular readers of the blog will know I rather enjoy painting Plague Marines it was a nice change of pace to try some zombie Space Marines without the influence of Papa Nurgle.
Another idea, linked to the above, came to me when I read the piece in the Legion of the Damned Codex describing the belief held by Inquisitor Quixos that the Legion were the Emperor’s will taking form on the physical plane, in exactly the same way as the daemons of chaos are the manifest will of their patron god. The piece suggested that just as, for example, Khorne’s servants range from bloodletters through to mighty bloodthristers, so there might be larger and more powerful entities in the Emperor’s pantheon of servants waiting to be discovered. I don’t know if I’ll try it but I thought this could be a rather fun project to pursue, perhaps creating a small strike force of Grey Knights to represent these Engels Mortis.

So what do you think? Are they the Emperor’s will made manifest or should I be burned for allowing noble warriors to consort with these dark spirits? Make your feelings known in the comments box below!


Tyrant of Nightmares

A storm comes, like the keening of the wind in the Immaterium, rattling the windows of the Imperium, prying fingers testing around every loose door or latch. The Warp is full of ghosts, the lonely cries of the dying, helpless, unanswered calls for aid. Vox channels once deemed secure are suddenly invaded, secrets spilling like blood. Ships fall burning in the void. From sump to spire, workers in every hive riot in terror, fouling the engines of their masters with their own bodies. Contagious madness spreads like fire. None are immune. Planetary governors fire upon their own men. Servitors, suddenly cognisant, turn their once vacant minds to treachery. Primitives on feral worlds acquire devastating knowledge, arcane secrets hidden since Old Night divined by haruspices from  the guts of their goats. Cogitators stutter with gusty laughter, the machine spirits within them howling like beasts. Across the sector all astropaths together begin the chant the same refrain. “Kell, Kell, Kell is upon us. The Lord of the Coming Night is here”.
kallamoon-kell-chaos-lord-convert-or-die-1Brutal tyrant. Peerless general. Visionary. Madman. Traitor. Following on from my last post which mostly focussed on Chapter Master Calgacus here’s the other side of the coin, Kallamoon Kell – Lord of Chaos and Master of the Beasts of Ruin. Unlike Calgacus, where the design of the model fed directly into his background and inspired many of my ideas about his chapter, Kell was already well established in my imagination long before I began gathering together the components needed to build him. By that time I had already built a sizeable collection of Chaos Space Marines, and their Daemonic allies, so with Kell the challenge was creating a model that suitably lived up to the legend and would stand out as the leader without looking impractically over the top.
kallamoon-kell-chaos-lord-convert-or-die-5In building Kell I used, by my count, pieces from at least fifteen different kits. The majority of these were from the Chaos range (both 40k and Warhammer) but various loyalist and xenos bits have snuck in there as well.
Unlike many other chaos lords he has not dedicated himself to any one god, nor does he flit anxiously from one to another. Rather he courts the favour of all four, building his empire and burning world after world in their names. He knows that to attempt to play the Chaos Gods against one another is to take a terrible risk for they are unlikely to be amused by what they must perceive as a pawn trying his hand at the Great Game. For now however he remains too valuable and too successful to idly quash. So long as he continues to wreak significant havoc in their names he retains their grudging favour but should he slip they will turn on him, united in their rage.
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kallamoon-kell-chaos-lord-convert-or-die-2I don’t for a moment believe that Kell trusts the chaos powers or sees them as anything other than a way of increasing his personal empire. Part of that distrust, I suspect, comes from the degeneration of his left arm into a trashing tentacle. Originally I used the part purely because I thought it looked good. As I worked on Kell however I started to think about why the most obvious physical manifestation of the warp’s influence on him was this vestigial limb, especially when so many of his followers are wildly mutated. The tentacle, then, became part of Kell’s story; the first gift he received from the dark gods. Given his monumental ego and the scale of the destruction he has perpetrated in their name it’s safe to say Kell would regard this “gift” as something of a disappointment. Rather than chop it off however he has kept it as a permanent reminder of the danger of relying on any higher power – be it the Imperium or the Gods themselves. To him the tentacle is a way of keeping his bitterness and hate for the Gods fresh, a token by which he ensures he never falls for the whispers of temptation that each offers him.
I also can’t help but imagine the tentacle limb as possessing a sentience of its own, rebellious to the body it adjoins and jealous of the bio-mechanical talon arm Kell has had grown to replace it. Thus Kell plots against the Dark Gods, constantly playing them against each other and subverting their attempts to control him whilst his own arm remains a devoted agent of the Gods, secretly working against him. I would say that someday it will strangle him in his sleep but between the Gods he spurns, the monsters he rules, the brothers he betrayed and his own relentless desire for power I can’t imagine he ever sleeps anyway.
kallamoon-kell-chaos-lord-convert-or-die-6In terms of the concept behind the model I drew pretty heavily on Abaddon the Despoiler for inspiration. He is, after all, in many ways the arch-adversary of the 40k universe. Amongst the big players only Ghazghkull Thraka, the Tyranid Hive-Mind and Imotekh the Stormlord really come close in terms of destructive, empire-burning power and ambition, and none of them combine that with the human element, the way in which Abaddon remains, at core, just a man. It’s this that, to me, makes him most interesting as he remains something of a self-made Lucifer, every victory and scrap of power won by his own efforts. This makes him rather different to his genetic father, Horus, or the surviving deamon-primarchs, all of whom were gifted their enormous powers by the Emperor and who achieved dominion over worlds and solar systems simply through the fact that they were almost unimaginably stronger, tougher and quicker to learn than any other candidate.
In spite of having based the model on Abaddon, the background I wrote for Kell falls closer to that for Lugft Huron, the deposed Tyrant of Badab (and originator of some of the finest and most quotable lines in 40k). Particularly it was this line in the Chaos Space Marines codex that grabbed my attention, when Huron declares “The Imperium is a weak old man, ready and waiting to be broken apart by his vengeful sons”. Kell does not have his eye on the throne of the Imperium, he knows it would be an albatross around his neck, a grim anchor to drag him down. No man can command the Imperium, it is too vast, too complex, to choked with internal strife and external assault. Even the Emperor, easily the most powerful and wise individual (human is too small a word) to have ever lived, could not hold it together for long before his bickering sons turned upon him. Abaddon will discover, almost as soon as his power-armoured bum is settled upon the throne of Terra, that an empire is a very different thing to command than an army. There are worlds to be governed, taxes to be collected, laws to be enacted. Hold too much power to himself and it will be overwhelming, give too much away and those he promotes will soon begin to imagine themselves taking his place. His allies too make for powerful warlords but less than useful administrators (unless you can imagine Kharn or Tyrphus governing a sector with any degree of aptitude). The Warpsmiths may be rather sharp at making warmachines but what about the hum-drum tools of everyday living that the servants of the Imperium require to do their duties? Amongst the stinking mutants he has gathered from the death worlds of the Eye of Terror he is unlikely to find suitable replacements for the Inquisition, the Arbites, the Astra Telepathica or the Ministorum and yet if he allows those organisations to stand they will plot against him, a ruthless, restless resistance that will take generations to crush. All the while the Great Waaargh will gather pace, the Tyranids will swarm through the galactic east, the Necrons will rise from their ghastly tomb worlds and his new Imperium will burn.
Better by far to carve out an empire on the fringes, to lay claim to a few systems and plunder from the rest as it falls.
kallamoon-kell-chaos-lord-convert-or-die-7With both Kell and his adversary Calgacus poses were deliberately chosen to reflect their personalities. The line between good and evil is pretty hazy in 40k, with even the supposed heroes coming out a rather dirty shade of grey. A good summation can be found in Forge World’s Badab War series, describing the Space Marines.

“Beyond their martial trappings and the endless roll of glorious victories, doomed last stands and courage in the face of a hostile universe a Space Marine fundamentally is a superhuman engine built, bred and trained for war… a monster by any other name”
Imperial Armour Volume 10 – The Badab War Part Two (Alan Bligh)

Thus rather than a glorious champion I wanted Calgacus to appear bullish and relentless, revealing his aggressive, at times even bloodthirsty, nature as he parries and slashes with his lightning claws. Kell, on the other hand, is a leader of men, a general who takes the long view in his campaigns, whilst Calgacus is solely a warrior, albeit a valiant and inspiring one to those under his command. Kell is a tactician, a cunning and charismatic orator who has united both daemons and mortals in his cause. Doing this has required his wits and strength of character as much as raw brawn so I posed him shouting an order and urging his men forward towards an unseen target.


Last of the Free

Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion… Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace
Calgacus “the Swordsman”, describing the Roman Empire, as quoted by Tacitus in the Agricola.

So, at last – after rattling on about it for ages now – Kallamoon Kell is finished. Needless to say I’m rather excited. Not only is Kell the warlord of my chaos army but the completion of the model brings to a close a project I started long ago, and which has seen plenty of ups and downs to get this far. I’ll start by talking a bit about his rival, Chapter Master Calgacus of the Hawkmoths, and hopefully upload a post on Kell later in the week.
As I’ve mentioned before one of the key narrative elements that fuels my interest in my Space Marine and Chaos Space Marine collections is the idea of a brotherhood torn apart. It’s the cornerstone of some of the finest storytelling to emerge from the Warhammer 40k background – particularly the Horus Heresy and the Badab War. More than simply the metaphorical or spiritual brotherhood that unites all Space Marines in the Emperor’s service I went for a far more personal conflict, a single chapter divided into bitter enmity. I especially wanted to capture this in the leaders of the two factions, creating two individuals who would be the focus of this background – a pair of characters once united by common cause but now sworn to the destruction of the other. On the one hand we would have Kallamoon Kell, a rising lord of chaos who led his brother space marines into rebellion and torn his chapter apart, and on the other we have Calgacus, the Chapter Master of the surviving loyalists, dedicated to hunting him down and seeing vengeance enacted.
Starting this project approximately three years ago I built and painted the first incarnations of my two central characters. Here’s Chapter Master Calgacus (version 1).
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space-marine-convert-or-die-6And here’s the first incarnation of Kell.
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chaos-lord-convert-or-die-6Of course it’s easy, retrospectively, to pick holes in both of these models. Calgacus V.1 especially was a project which I struggled with, losing faith in it part way through. To my eye it shows in the finished miniature. Attaching the shield was a real nightmare and the tarnished gold of the armour proved to be a series of headaches that left me relieved rather than proud when I finally stuck him on the shelf.
There are some elements I’m rather proud of, for one the skeletal servitor mounted on the top of his armour which always strikes me as the epitome of decaying Imperial arrogance (and is something I’d like to replicate elsewhere – possible as a gun servitor on a tank).
Kell V.1 meanwhile is workmanlike, fit for purpose in my eyes but hardly the tyrant of nightmares I had envisioned. Also, there’s something distinctly Khornate about him (just look at his helmet) which didn’t fit with the vibe I was looking for; a lord grudgingly respected by all four gods. Thus Kell V.1 was demoted, becoming Avar the Twisted, champion of my Terminator squad The Blessed Slaughter. Meanwhile Calgacus V.1 was retired to the shelf and I started work on new versions of both.

In both cases I now had a much clearer image in mind of what I was looking for, a model in keeping with the background I imagined. In the case of Calgacus I wanted a real “working man’s” Chapter Master, not the enthroned master of worlds but a space marine first and foremost, someone unafraid to get stuck in at the speartip of the most gruelling and brutal assaults. I also decided that the Hawkmoth’s Chapter Master had been killed during Kell’s betrayal, thus leaving the field open for a new man to lead a transformed chapter. From being relatively static guardians of territory the Hawkmoths have reinvented themselves as a fast moving, fleet-based strike force, with tactics reminiscent of the Minotaurs, Carcharodons or even pre-Heresy Night Lords. The first step in that rebuilding process must have been the selection of a new Chapter Master. The field however would have been limited, with most of the prime candidates either turned traitor or slain. Thus they would have been forced to select a candidate who, although in keeping with the ruthless, vengeance hungry mood of the time might in another era have been considered less than stable. Enter the pugnacious Calgacus, a fearsome yet loyal wardog of the Imperium.
space-marine-chapter-master-convert-or-die-2To reinforce the idea that this is a man who’s fought at the forefront of numerous battles (and has the scars and cybernetic reconstruction to prove it) I gave him what must be my favourite Space Marine head of all time. With half his skull (and doubtless some of his brain) replaced by a bionic substitute he’s hardly likely to be the most calm and easy-going individual but I’d say it’s a safe bet that he’s handy in a fight. Suffice to say I’m much happier with this version.
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space-marine-chapter-master-convert-or-die-4In my efforts to imagine his background he has come to be representative of his chapter as a whole. His ruthless brutality in battle and black, blood-thirsty rages at other times have led many to believe he is unhinged, and as dangerous to the Imperium he is sworn to protect as Kell himself. As a result his is a fairly dark reputation, though whether the butchery he is responsible for is a result of calculated brutality or berserk rage remains a contested issue. Nevertheless his merciless wrath may be just what the Hawkmoth’s chapter requires for many have slipped into bleak fury since their betrayal and each time Calgacus has dispatched his Death’s Heads to hunt them down and bring back their bones. For those few amongst the Holy Ordos who have tracked the near renegade Hawkmoths into the deep void his methods may be distasteful but, with the Imperium crumbling, they accept that – for now – this baleful and secretive chapter and its rapacious master may be an ally they cannot do without.


A Man of Outstanding Character

Increasingly I find that I both love and don’t love – hate is too strong a word – special characters. I love them because they add to the background, to the immersion in the world, to the sense that the 41st Millennium is a living, breathing place and the battles that take place matter – never mind how vast and uncaring the galaxy is purported to be. We’re often reminded that “…the Universe is a big place and, whatever happens, you will not be missed”. Special characters redress the balance, the Imperium may be on its beam ends but it is still possible for someone to make a difference one way or another. When the Emperor admitted that Horus’s last blow had stung a little and he was going to lie down for a bit it turned the Imperium on its head. If Marneus Calgar or Abaddon the Despoiler died tomorrow it’s safe to say that someone would miss them – or at least notice. Thus although the average Imperial Guardsman or worker in a hive sump might not be missed Special Characters are, well, special. However I also feel that, to a degree, they divorce me from my collection – that ownership of them lies not with me but with other people; the writers and creators of the game and its cannon of fiction and other players who also use them in the collections.

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I love to see a collection modelled around specific units and characters from the background fiction. An excellent example of this is the Son’s of Horus army by Duncan Rhodes showcased in White Dwarf (November 2013) that featured Loken and Abbadon during the early part of the Horus Heresy. The collection both captures a moment in time and tells a story – specifically one to which I’ve already developed an attachment through reading the series of books from Forge World and the Black Library. I also enjoy being able to open a codex and read that in the year X, or at the time of battle Y, and see the whole army presented in a structured manner; the names of every sergeant, the title of every captain, all the way from the Chapter Master to the servitor that cleans his boots (I know that’s an exaggeration but you get my drift – pages of heraldry or chapter organisation are very cool. Several of the armies in Warhammer already have whole books covering just this and something similar for 40k could be very interesting).

However whilst I love to see a collection modelled around specific units and characters from the background fiction I don’t see myself collecting them any time soon. Part of that is my own chaotic approach to collecting armies, I add units based very much on whim, rather than following any kind of structured approach. It’s safe to say that Roboute Guilliman would have been disgusted with me! Then again with the three armies in my collection being Orks, Chaos and a Space Marine chapter that’s as close to being renegade as you can get, this is hardly surprising. Thus although there are stories in the 40k background which excite me (for example the Third War for Armageddon, the Badab War and of course the Heresy itself) none of them grip me to the level of the story I’ve imagined myself. That story is personal, it belongs exclusively to me.

This attitude extends beyond the army and into the characters that make it up. Take Abaddon the Despoiler for example. The Black Library novels have done a cracking job portraying him, from the bullish dedication shown in Wolf of Ash and Fire (excellent incidentally – I was lucky enough to get the chance to read a copy and it’s well worth it if you get the opportunity), through the inevitable path that follows through the Horus Heresy series as he transforms into the belligerent Despoiler that haunts the Imperium today. Needless to say I’m hugely excited about Talon of Horus. Sadly although the Black Library have made Abaddon into a deep and fascinating character his appearances in pieces of in-codex short fiction (for example in the last edition of Apocalypse or the Cypher dataslate) depict him as so paper thin and clichéd its almost embarrassing. If they are to be believed then it’s no wonder it’s taken him so long to prepare his final crusade against the Imperium, he’s been too busy twirling his moustache and cackling. It’s partly this dichotomy that puts me off from including him in my collection.

Then there’s the matter of sharing the limelight. The characters I’ve imagined as leaders are key to the story that forms the cornerstone of the collection as a whole. What would happen then if Kallamoon Kell found himself sharing the stage with Abadddon? The only reasonable explanation, without either stretching my credulity or abandoning the tenants of the setting, is for Abadddon to take command – and that would never do.

This is where I start to encounter a conflict. On the one hand I don’t want to include special characters in my army for all the reasons stated above. On the other hand I do – these are exciting personalities after all. In the end it comes back to a feeling of ownership, when all is said and done I want my own characters – but I’m inspired by the possibility of taking pre-existing characters and personalising them.

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All of which brings us, in a roundabout way, to Fabius Bile. I like the idea of him as a character but at the same time felt that he didn’t fit in with the rest of my collection. Of course I could have invented a reason for him to be fighting alongside the Beasts of Ruin, as a nomad and mercenary it would make perfect sense for him to join up with another rising Chaos warband, but I preferred the idea of having something personal, something that belonged to me. Enter Pharol, the Bleak Physician. Rather than the Primogenitor himself I simply based my own character off a similar concept, creating my own twisted apothecary to harvest geneseed from dead loyalists and create fresh marines for the Beasts. He carries the same wargear as Apothecary Fabius and I would field him using the same rules but otherwise he’s my own creature.

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  Rather than use the original Fabius as the base model for the conversion I chose a Dark Angel veteran and bought the Chirurgeon separately as part of a bitz-pack. However, doing this also got me a set of the backpacks usually used for the model of Cypher. Now, having read his dataslate, I’m starting to think that the next appearance of the most mysterious character in 40k should be amongst the Beasts of Ruin. Looks like everything I’ve written here might be hypocrisy after all eh?

Edit re: Wolf of Ash and Fire.
And what do you know – now it’s up to download FOR FREE from the Black Library website. Looks like it’s a limited time only offer though so get over there sharpish!


Be Without Fear

I’ll warn you here and now that this is an unashamedly pretentious and self-indulgent post, so read on at your peril or skip to the end and look at the pictures!

It took me a long time to recognise that Space Marines, far from the tediously unbeatable interplanetary do-gooders I had initially believed, are actually more like monastic space-knights who control their psychopathic battle-lust through dedication and meditation; monsters built to kill and held in check only by tremendous will-power. A worthy adversary that my barbaric servants of chaos could really get their teeth into then, as I felt they lacked something without agents of good and order to stand against them.

Many of humanity’s oldest stories share the same theme; the battle between the order of civilised lands and the chaotic-dangers of the wilderness beyond. In the story of Warhammer 40k the Imperium of Man is besieged by monsters from the darkness of space as fearsome as any from the ancient wildwood and just as a dragon stalking the land needs a knight to slay it so the Space Marines must hold back the assorted daemons, traitors and xenos that rage around their gates.

So I devised a little background to my army, creating a theme around which the collection would be based (see below). In doing this I deliberately linked my Space Marines (the Hawkmoths) to my Chaos Space Marines (the Beasts of Ruin), allowing each to inspire the other. Until now I hadn’t written any of it down as I’ve regarded that kind of thing as fan-fiction, something I’ve tended to view with the same flirtatious distrust as a radical inquisitor finding a grimoire that twitches. However I was pleasantly surprised by how much its inspired many of the units and conversions you’ll see here, so expect to see more snippets as the blog progresses!

The Origins of the Hawkmoths
No records of the Hawkmoths exist in Imperial Archives prior to the Age of Apostasy and so it is to be assumed that whatever accounts of their origins might once have existed are now long lost. Given this dearth of information it is perhaps unsurprising that rumour and speculation have become so rife; that they were part of the cursed 21st founding, that they were born of heretical experiments by radicals from the Blood Angels chapter seeking a cure to their curse, that theirs is a Chimeric gene-seed or that its source was somehow prohibited, that darkness and heresy dogged their earliest days. These uncertain origins, combined with their terrible ferocity in battle and feral world traditions, have led the Hawkmoths to stand apart from the rest of the Imperium, shunned and distrusted by Imperial Commanders and fellow Astartes alike. Only two now remain who might know the truth; First Chapter Master Titus who has long slept as a dreadnaught and his former brother Byatis, who turned to the worship of the Chaos Gods and was damned.

Now, with the age of the Imperium waning, those secrets are returning to haunt them. Kalamoon Kell, Captain of the Hawkmoth’s Sixth Company and Master of Rites, located the prison moon upon which the Daemon Byatis was caged. Rather than order the beast banished into the warp he sought to bind him and force him to reveal his secrets. Whatever he learned on that dark, airless world was enough to convince him to abandon his former allegiances, gathering over a third of the Hawkmoths to him and leading them in a brutal campaign of extermination against their former brothers. Prohibited weapons were turned on their own homeworld, Sarnas Prime, whilst a surprise assault saw the chapter’s fortress monastery aboard the relic ship Heart of Carnelian boarded and almost scuttled. In the aftermath the Hawkmoths were reduced to a mere token of their former strength whilst Kell and his followers, now calling themselves The Beasts of Ruin, went on to rampage through the Kadatheron and Hathan systems.

The Hawkmoths however are not a chapter to accept defeat. They may have suffered the loss of much of their traditional might and resources, and the scouring of their homeworld into irradiated ruin, but they remain Astartes and will not fade into the coming night. Gathering their remaining strength they have set out into the desolate void in search of vengeance.

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Captain Ankrion, Master of the Fleet.

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Tactical Squad Maalin, including the first Space Marines I ever painted.

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Many of the First Company sided with the rebels and slew their own Chapter Master. The surviving loyalist terminators reserve for these heretics a particular loathing and consider themselves bound by a debt of failure that will not be paid until the last of their former brothers is slain.

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The background story has influenced the choice of colours for both armies. I chose red as the primary colour of the loyalist Hawkmoths, who have repainted their armour following their betrayal in a colour that signifies their quest for blood and vengeance. Similarly the colour has been washed out of the armour of the Beasts of Ruin by their submersion in the warp, leaving only pale, bone-coloured plates.

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Tactical Squad Hadriana; named in honour of the Thunderhawk Hadriana lost with all hands in the skies over Sarnas Prime.

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Many of the Hawkmoths bear sigils and primitive gang-markings, symbols of the feral worlds from which they draw their recruits.