Archive for Inquisimunda

Grimdark video games?!

Posted in 40k, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings, Totally worth it with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2017 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, something a bit different today — I hope you’ll appreciate the variety, even if it means a lack of new painted models. So what is this about?

It’s very common for hobbyists to talk about their inspiration: Whether it comes down to creating conversions or narratives, most of us will inevitably build on influences and concepts from many different sources, such as film, art, literature or personal experiences from RPG groups. To wit, the entire 40k universe itself is based on so many different influences, and has grown into a massive, unwieldy, eclectic and brilliant mixture of a thousand references, ranging from 80s pop culture to every SciFi and gothic cliché ever.

Today’s post, therefore, will deal with yet another possible source of inspiration when it comes to get a feeling for the kind of narrative that would work in the 40k universe, and the kind of characters that would populate such a narrative. And while I draw lots of my own hobby inspiration from the aforementioned media (with sources as diverse as David Lynch’s Dune adaptation, Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan & Gormenghast and Charles Dickens as some of my favourite influences), today I would like to talk about another possible influence: the wonderful world of video games.

Now some of you may remember that I am a huge video game nerd. It’s a medium that I have been endlessly fascinated with for a very long time now, and it continues to interest aesthetically, narratively and professionally .

I could wax poetical on the many fascinating, obscure or downright grotesque features that turn digital games into such a riveting subject for me, but that’s not really the focus of this blog. So let us rather focus on a couple of games that have influenced my hobby life by inspiring characters, narratives or just a general style in my own hobby work.

Before we begin, however, a disclaimer of sorts: By no means is the following collection of titles and influences an exhaustive collection, nor is it intended to be. It’s also very possible that you know each and every one of those games, so the post could turn out to be old news to you. And finally, to be fair, this post has also been simmering away in the back of my head for quite a while now, so be warned that it may actually have moved away from actual 40k a bit, dealing – at least to some degree – more with games and game series that I find inspiring, period. That being said, if you enjoy 40k and Inquisitor and all that, and if you are interested in visually and/or narratively interesting videogames, the following titles might be worth a look. And who know: Just like me, you may even get an idea for an army, a conversion or an INQ28 retinue out of it. So let’s take a look:

 

I. Legacy of Kain series

It seems weird to me that the Legacy of Kain series seems to have become almost a bit obscure by today’s standards, when it used to be a rather common household name in video game circles – and even a veritable system seller – during the late 90s and early 2000s.

The series’ development history is rather complicated and convoluted, with different developers and teams adding their own perspective to the series, and acclaimed video game writer Amy Hennig (possibly best known for her role on Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series these days) ending up with the task of somehow binding it all together into a semi-coherent overarching narrative.

Fascinating as those tribulations are, however, I don’t even want to get into the details here. Suffice it to say that the series started with Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (basically “The Legend of Zelda” with vampires), which was followed by Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (basically “Tomb Raider” with Vampires). The series deals with the vampire Kain and his rise (and fall) in the gothic world of Nosgoth, and it introduced both a pretty interesting cast of characters as well as a very distinct look and feel. Just check out Soul Reaver’s intro movie:

One of the series major narrative arcs deals with the conflict between the – seemingly completely amoral – vampire overlord Kain and his fallen former lieutenant Raziel, turned into a twisted wraith at Kain’s behest and now out for revenge — although things turn out to be much more complicated than that, as the series’ narrative is just about as convoluted as its development history. It can be a bit overdesigned and wordy in places, but it’s well worth checking out for yourself!

So why does the series appear on my list? There’s the very grimdark setting, for one: Nosgoth is a very dark and gothic place, where everything’s gone to hell in a handbasket because the man destined to be the world’s saviour refused the ultimate sacrifice – his own life – electing instead to become a depraved, immortal vampire emperor, ruling a failing empire. If that isn’t grimdark, I don’t know what is.

But there’s more: Kain’s dealings with his vampire lieutenants and their ultimate fates remind me a lot of of 40k’s Daemon Primarchs and Traitor Legions: There’s a gravitas and a sense of lost grace here that should seem very familiar to anyone who likes 30k and 40k. There’s also a fair share of purple prose (and some truly excellent voice acting) to be had, so if you want to get a feeling of what a Chaos Space Marine might feel like after millennia of corruption and simmering regret, the Legacy of Kain series provides some very good inspiration on that account!

After several unsuccessful attempts at reviving the series in recent years, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see another entry. The games available so far still tell a (fairly) complete tale of hybris, revenge and redemption, however, and are well worth your time, provided you are prepared to deal with a bit of technical clunkiness (in the earlier games in particular). The entire series, minus the first Blood Omen, is still available via GOG.com, among others. The games cost about 5,00 Euros a pop, and if the series’ premise interests you, I recommend you just snatch them all up: I played nearly all of them back to back, a couple of years ago, and it really helps to get a grip on the rather complicated storyline. You can also read up on the games on Nosgothic Realm, an incredibly expansive fansite.

II. Primal

Like Legacy of Kain, Primal used to be a fairly high profile release back when it first came out in 2003. A Playstation 2 exclusive developed by Sony’s own Cambridge studio, Primal was a fairly ambitious project with incredible production values for the time. Not all that many people seem to remember it these days, which is a shame, especially since it has some rather interesting connections to Games Workshop — but we’ll be getting there in a minute…

The game’s basic premise seems clichéd enough: Perky goth chic Jen is nearly killed by a daemon who just happened to infiltrate a gig of her boyfriend’s Nu-Metal band (I swear I am not making this up!). With Jen’s boyfriend abducted, she finds herself transported to the fantasy dimension of Oblivion, which consists of four realms. The forces of order and chaos, respectively, seek to establish control over these realms, and Abaddon, Lord of chaos, has come dangerously close to toppling the precarious balance of power.

So it falls to Jen, accompanied by adorable gargoyle helper Scree, to travel to the four realms, learn how to transform into different demon forms and re-establish the balance between chaos and order.

Mechnically speaking, Primal is one of those third person action adventure the early 2000s were so very fond of (think Tomb Raider with less climbing and more character interaction). If that doesn’t sound like much to write home about, it’s important to point out that Primal’s production values, its narrative and its pretty excellent cast take the whole affair into some rather interesting directions, so it’s far more interesting than its rather cookie-cutter premise would led you to believe.

There’s yet another reason why Primal would be interesting for every discerning fan of GW’s various IPs: Travelling the game’s world, you cannot shake a general feeling of …familiarity. Take the game’s four realms, serving as its massive levels, and their respective inhabitants: There’s Solum and the Ferai (totally not slightly more lawful-neutral Khorne-worshipping Beastmen), Aquis and the Undine (totally not victims to some kind of slightly Nurglite plague), Aetha and the Wraith (totally not Slaaneshi vampires) and, finally, Volca and the Djinn (totally not worshippers of Tzeentch). The latter, in particular, seem rather GW-ish in design — to the point where the Djinn would make for excellent Tzeentchian champions or daemon princes, as you can see in this video (starting at 11:40, in case YouTube’s timecode widget refuses to work):

Those similarities are far from coincidental, however, as Primal’s lead artist was none other than Mark Gibbons, one of GW’s most prolific artists and illustrators during the early to mid-90s. You know, the guy who did pieces like this:

Artwork by Mark Gibbons

His touch is very noticeable, and there is more than a little vintage GW in the character designs and artwork as well as the art design in the game proper:

What’s more, while the four realms and their inhabitants clearly recall GW’s chaotic factions, the whole idea of of four discreet realms in the game also somewhat recalls the realms that now appear in Age of Sigmar, even though AoS didn’t come around until fairly recently.

An emulated version of Primal is still available on the PlayStation Store (both for the Playstation 3 and 4), and it’s very much worth the price of admission: It may be trying a bit too hard to be edgy and grownup for today’s standards. and it may not be great literature, but the main characters’ banter makes them genuinely endearing, and the production values are still great, even from a modern perspective. And if nothing else, it’s a fascinating example of Mark Gibbons creating something that should feel more than a little familiar for longtime hobbyists, albeit in a different medium and for a different employer.

III. Dishonored series

This next entry is a far more recent series: If you are even slightly into video games right now, chances are you’ve heard of the Dishonored series. It is also one of my current favourites. And it feels a lot like an Inquisitor campaign every now and then, but maybe that’s just me 😉

Dishonored is set in the Empire of the Isles, a setting that invokes Great Britain (in the first game) and its colonies (in the second game) during the early 19th/early 20th century, albeit with a twist: Much of the Empire’s culture seems oddly familiar, but Dishonored’s world also presents a strange and intriguing clash of fantasy, (steampunk) technology and magic. What’s more, there’s a very particular look and feel to the whole affair, ranging from the – almost painterly -realism of its character design (call me crazy, but there’s more than a bit of New Objectivity to be found in the games’ art design) to the general bleak atmosphere of the world, with decadent nobles scheming and vying for power, as disinfranchised smallfolk suffer under their cruelty. Dishonored’s world is very dark, but also quite fascinating. It poses some interesting moral questions and goes to some rather interesting places with them. The way in which the games explore the morality of nonlethal solutions to many of its problems is just one very poignant example.

From a gameplay perspective, the Dishonored games can be visceral, combat-focused revenge fantasies or elegant stealth games — or anything in between, really, purely based on your preferred way of playing. What’s so mechanically great about the games is how they accomodate your playstyle and choices and make the world adapt accordingly in many interesting ways. Like I said, it’s one of my favourite game series at the moment 😉

As for the series’ position on this list, Dishonored can also feel very Inqusitor/INQ28 at times. It would be easy to imagine Dishonored’s Empire of the Isles as a civilised world within the Imperium of Man, and as the setting for an INQ28 campaign. For instance, whenever I read Apologist’s incredibly cool world building for his “Death of a Rubricist” setting, Dishonored is one of the things I feel acutely remembered of. Plans within schemes are very much at the heart of the series, and if you are into Inquisitor and its particular way of storytelling and world building, you’ll take lots of inspiration away from Dishonored — in fact, the world building alone is basically worth the price of admission!

Dishonored 2_20161120161254

The series consists of two main games (Dishonored and Dishonored 2) and one major spin-off campaign for each of the main games. Dishonored gets “The Knife of Dunwall” as a nearly game-sized DLC, whereas Dishonored 2’s spin-off campaign, “The Death of the Outsider” was recently released as a standalone title. All of the games are available on PC, Playstation 3/4 or Xbox 360/One, and I would very much recommend to check out the entire series, starting with the first title. If you’re even a bit like me, you’ll want to explore every nook and cranny of this truly breathtakingly realised world!

And while we are talking about Dishonored, let’s not forget about…

III.b …the Thief Series

Because I would be remiss not to mention the Thief series, which seems like Dishonored’s spiritual prequel (and a highly acclaimed stealth series in its own right). Thief only makes this particular list by association, it’s true, but the main reason for that is that its world is a fair bit more medieval (and thus less 40k) than Dishonored’s. Even so, fans of INQ28 and/or Mordheim in particular will doubtlessly find a lot to like about Thief’s dark, steampunk-ish world. Just to give you an idea, when I read the description of Queen Mab during the opening chapters of Dan Abnett’s novel Pariah (the first and, alas, to date only entry in the Eisenhorn vs. Ravenor series), I felt instantly reminded of The City from the Thief series.

IV. Resonance of Fate

A strange entry, this one, mostly because Resonance of Fate is a JRPG, with all the baggage and strangeness that entails: Now Japanese role playing games clearly aren’t for everybody, as they tend to have a particular tone and feel, one that is often informed by the peculiarities of Japanese pop culture. Personally speaking, I have a long personal history of playing JRPGs, however, going all the way back to the 8- and 16-bit days, so I can usually stomach, or even appreciate, the weirdness inherent to the genre.

Resonance of Fate is, on the face of it, very Japanese in many ways: It’s an eclectic combination of fantasy, cyberpunk, turn-based battles fought with guns (and almost ridiculous amounts of acrobatics) and classic JRPG tropes. What makes the game a definite candidate for this particular list, however, is its peculiar setting, Basel:

Basel is a multileveld city built around a massive central elevator. It was orginially constructed as a combined retreat for humanity and an atmospheric cleaning device, but it grew and became more complicated and essentially turned into a massive, sprawling city over the  centuries — a veritable Hive city by any other name.


And while Basel may look strange and far different from the hive cities of 40k, the game really does an excellent job of depicting a society that has developed around the basic challenge of living within a massive machine: Towns and villages are wedged into Basel’s open spaces, with giant cogs ticking away in the background. The strata of older cultures and settlements are clearly visible in many places, and most people have clearly forgotten the massive facility’s original use, content to eke out a living among its unknowable mechanisms. The rest of the setting confirms to this basic conceit: Instead of dragons and orcs, you get to fight modern bandits and runaway biological experiments.

Which is all a rather roundabout way of saying that, in spite of its copious amounts of JRPG tropes, Resonance of Fate can almost feel like a Japanese take on Necromunda. Which, in turn, can make it fascinating to check out for a fan of GW’s various 40k-related settings.

When all is said and done, however, Resonance of Fate is still a very Japanese game indeed, with all the tropes and quirkiness that entails. If you can stomach the occasional weirdness (the odd jokes, the dressup meta game, the weird gender stereotypes and the sometimes awkward pacing and dialogue), it’s a fascinating, quirky little game. The following video shows some of the gameplay, and I had an especially strong Necromunda moment starting at 6:26, with the heroes passing through the artifacts of prior civilisations while making their way from Basel’s highest level, the Chandelier, to the lower residential areas:

The fact remains that Resonance of Fate can be a bit of an acquired taste — even moreso, arguably, than mainstream JRPGs like Final Fantasy. You may want to take a look at the game’s prologue below to find out whether the general tone and style is for you:

V. Basically anything by Yasumi Matsuno

Yasumi Matsuno is a fascinating director and author because he stands for a very particular kind of RPG world and storytelling. Instead of fairy tale romps that end with the heroes defeating a mustache twirling demon lord to save the world, Matsuno’s games (and game worlds) are invariably steeped in realpolitik: They always deal with the politics going on in the background, the shady deals and painful sacrifices that keep kingdoms and empires going while creating tragedies for the protagonists. Unlike most roleplaying games, Matsuno’s titles usually don’t put you in the shoes of the idealistic hero saving the world due to sheer spunk and virtue: You just do your best while history – and politics – march on relentlessly in the background. And even if you should end up saving the world, don’t expect anyone’s thanks for it! Chances are, you’ll go down in history as a dangerous heretic…

There are also numerous shout outs to real world history: Tactics Ogre is basically a medieval fantasy version of the Yugoslav Wars. Final Fantasy Tactics (very much Tactics Ogre’s spiritual sequel) is basically the War of the Roses with dragons and Chocobos (it is also one of the finest strategy RPGs ever devised by man).

While all of Matsuno’s games are very much worth checking out, I want to point you towards some titles in particular, starting with Vagrant Story: a strange and darkly beautiful game that is one of my all-time favourites, and maybe Matsuno’s definitive piece of work:

Vagrant Story is a take on Western RPG and dungeon crawler conventions with a fascinating story about different factions trying to get their hands on the dark magics resting within the lost city of Leà Monde.


You’re cast in the role of one Ashley Riot, basically a medieval special ops soldier. Your goal is to infiltrate the lost city, rescue the hostages taken by a religious cult and prevent its members from claiming the city’s dark power for their own. You soon find out that things are far more complicated, however, and that there are more parties interested in Leà Monde and its legacy.

Vagrant Story is known for several things: Its incredible art design. Its dark and mature storytelling. Its punishing take on western roleplaying and dungeon crawling conventions. And, certainly not least of all, its acclaimed English translation by Alexander O. Smith, among others, adding an extra layer to an already incredibly elegant narrative.

I don’t even want to tell you too much about Vagrant Story, because it has to be experienced firsthand. It’s a punishing and darkly mysterious experience. If you enjoy deep, ambiguous tales and thought-provoking narratives, you should check it out. It’s quite a ride, indeed, and it can be had for a song on the PlaystationStore.

One of Yasumi Matsuno’s biggest mainstream games, set in the same world as Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story, is Final Fantasy XII, a mainline entry in the colossally successful Final Fantasy series.

Like Matsuno’s other games, FF XII is a triumphant exercise in world building, with a setting that seems like it could actually exist somewhere and wouldn’t wink out of existence the moment you switch off your console. Once again, there’s also a lot of background politics at play here, with history’s gears very much in motion while your band of heroes is gallivanting around the world of Ivalice.

It’s a rather interesting subversion of many of Final Fantasy’s classic tropes, as well as a fascinating look at what Matsuno can get up to with a bigger budget — at least partially so, as he had to drop out of the project late into its development. The game is still quite something, though! It’s still widely available on Playstation consoles, with a remastered version (“Final Fantay XII – The Zodiac Age”) released earlier this year.

FINAL FANTASY Ⅻ THE ZODIAC AGE_20170814193800

As for its influence on my 40k hobby, among many other things, let’s just say that I am still looking for a way of creating a 40k-compatible way of incorporating Final Fantasy XII’s Judges into my INQ28 setting…

 

Matsuno’s obvious love for the classic western pen & paper RPG finally came full circle with Crimson Shroud, released in 2012 as a fairly obscure download-only title for the Nintendo 3DS (at least in the west):

In many ways, Crimson Shroud mirrors many of Vagrant Story’s story beats (and much of its general look and feel): A small group of adventurers infiltrates the ruins of a palace in search of the eponymous artifact. There they encounter not only many vicious creatures, but also a dark and tragic story going back centuries. The narrative is both concise and nuanced, especially for a smaller digital release like this.

What makes Crimson Shroud truly captivating, however, are the lenghts to which the game actually emulates classic pen & paper roleplaying — to the point where you throw virtual dice to determine the outcome of most actions in the game and all the characters and monsters are displayed as actual miniatures mounted on their own small bases and placed within diorama-like backgrounds, making the whole thing seem like an actual tabletop roleplaying session.


If that sounds weird, it certainly is, and it’s not exactly easy to pick up and play. But everything that’s fascinating about a Matsuno game – such as the nuanced storytelling and excellent world building – also make an appearance here, creating a sublime narrative experience almost on par with Vagrant Story. Plus the game is a fascinating love letter to western tabletop gaming, as seen through a distinctly Japanese lense.

 

Honorary mention: Incubation

Okay, let’s treat this last game as a bit of an out of competition entry, but I still need to mention Incubation: Released in 1997 as part of the – then pretty successful (at least in Germany) – Battle Isle series, Incubation basically worked as the first really cool squad-based Space Marine game without even being a GW-licensed title.

Incubation probably seems incredibly primitive by modern standards, but back then, it felt like a revelation: I remember loving GW and 40k even back then and hoping they would end up making a game based on their IPs that didn’t suck — but it actually never came to that, at least not back then. But a German developer made a game about vanilla SciFi-troopers (totally not Space Marines) fighting against a slightly weird alien race (totally not the Tyranids), and after playing it, I kept asking myself why GW couldn’t have come up with that kind of game — or at least given the license to these guys…

Funnily enough, Incubation is actually still available as part of the Battle Isle Platinum Pack, but I couldn’t really tell you whether or not it has aged all that gracefully. I will affirm though that it felt like an excellent Space Marine game long before GW themselves got their act together on that front, and that’s enough to be included in this list!

 

So yeah, so much for my – entirely subjective and woefully incomplete – list of video games that have fed into my hobby over the years. I would love to hear your feedback, both on the nature of this post as well as on the actual choices I have made: Was this an interesting subject, in spite of only dealing with the actual hobby in a slightly roundabout way? And did I miss any games that should be included on this list? You are very welcome to contribute your own favourites!

In any case, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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The State of the Hunt, Week 33/2017: Idle hands…

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, state of the hunt, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2017 by krautscientist

So I find myself in a bit of a motivational slump at the moment, trying to work up the motivation to actually paint some of my recently completed Death Guard models, especially my biker lord, since he’s my pledge for the August Arena event over at The Bolter & Chainsword. But while I remain committed to that plan, I just couldn’t seem to get started, and the fact that I’ve been distracted by other stuff – including other hobbies – recently, didn’t really help.

At the same time, cutting up little plastic men is never really all that far from my mind, so when I received a rather nice bitz drop from fellow hobbyist Aasfresser, my interest was piqued:


Among the bitz were some early 90s plastic berzerkers (say what you will about them, as far as monpopose models from the early 90s go, I think they’re pretty great!) and a plastic CSM from around the same time — I’ve never even owned one of the latter before, and while the model hasn’t aged all that gracefully, I do think those were pretty much ahead for the curve for their time, especially when compared to the pretty atrocious 2nd edition plastic Space Marines.

There were also all kinds of chaotic bitz and bobs — but it might surprise you to learn that something altogether different caught my eye and gave me an idea…

 

I. A thing in a jar

As I discovered to my delight, Aasfresser had also included one of those creepy embryonic rats that come with the Skaven Stormfiends kit. Having one of those things in my hands made me remember my half-buried thoughts about a possible conversion project, and then things just started falling into place: I recalled a certain John Blanche sketch from the 4th edition 40k rulebook, Aasfresser told me about his own plans for those via PM and ‘doesn’t that new 40k objectives kit contain a pretty cool incubation tank…?’

Anyway, here’s what I had when I came to 😉


As you can see, I basically added that incubation tank from the Sector Imperialis Objectives to the undercarriage of a Kataphron Destroyer, and I think it works pretty well. A word of warning to those of you who are considering a purchase of the objectives kit, however: While it contains many excellent parts, the cast seems to be plagued with the same gooey texture and loss of detail we have already seen on some of the basing kits. The components are still serviceable, but they are not as sharp and crisp as the stuff you get when you purchase a 40k squad (or AoS unit).

Those problems notwithstanding, the combined parts made a rather convincing new home for that creepy little embryo: I love the idea of the Adeptus Mechanicus keeping strange and creepy experiments inside incubation tanks and vats and maybe taking them along for expeditions and battles to field-test them. Or maybe this is a particularly degenerate member of the Adeptus itself?

In any case, I did my best to make the small creature inside the tank as creepy as I could: All signs of its ratty progeny (the face and tail) were carefully shaved away, and a new face was spliced in. I also added some more cabling and some injectors and vials for that extra bit of AdMech madness. Here’s a closer look:



Given the enlarged brain, I thought it would be cool to go for a face with the eyes and mouth sewn shut, so I used one of the trophy heads from the Plaguebearer kit. Yeah, pretty unhinged — I know 😉

Now the back of the tank is fully detailed as well, with a pretty nifty array of cogitator banks, so I wanted to have some kind of Magos or tech thrall on there, monitoring the vital signs, collecting readings and stuff like that. Now my original plan was to have the operator as an actual, separate individual, but comments from fellow hobbyists over at the B&C made me reconsider — and realise that there’s actually nothing more AdMech than having a hardwired servitor on there for just that one purpose, is there?

So here’s a mockup for the operator/servitor:



And here’s a view from the front, without the tank in the way 😉



The servitor itself looks pretty faceless, but that’s arguably the point of such a creature, right? 😉

All in all, I think the model is really starting to come together — and the cradle for the servitor also goes some way towards making the whole ensemble look more believable as an actual AdMech machine.

So the model should be a pretty cool addition to the small AdMech freakshow I have already built and painted for my INQ28 collection:

II. Primaris premiere

Sawing through all of those Kataphron Destroyer bitz also led to another conversion: I recently purchased a box of three snapfit Primaris Marines, so I could experiment on the new Space Marine models at some point. Say what you will about the way the bigger Marines have been shoehorned into the setting (personally, I hate it!), but the models are pretty cool and provide the perfect go-to template for building true scale Astartes for use in INQ28, among other things. So I returned to yet another conversion I had been planning for a while — although having the Primaris Marines to work from certainly made this project quite a bit easier!




As you can probably tell from looking at the model, this is supposed to be an Iron Hands (Tech-) Marine. I carefully sawed away most of the Primaris torso front and replaced it with a Kataphron Destroyer breastplate. The bionic left arm also came from the Kataphron Destroyers. The backpack and head are from the Deathwatch:Overkill Iron Hands character, and the bionic left hand and axe are from a Master of the Forge.

For the right arm, I tried just tacking on the stock arm, but this highlighted the fact that the new, elongated bolters don’t really work all that well when held in one hand — the arm just seemed ever so slightly unbalanced to me. So I carefully reposed the arm from aforementioned Deathwatch:Overkill model, and I think it works far better:




Funnnily enough, the new gun isn’t really that much shorter, but it still looks quite a bit more balanced, wouldn’t you agree? It probably has something to do with the front of the weapon having a stockier build and looking less “elongated”, for lack of a better word. Plus the cabling also adds a bit of extra visual “counterweight”, as it were.

So that’s it for this week: Nothing groundbreaking, but a couple of – hopefully interesting – kitbashes. As usual, I would love to hear your feedback! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

The State of the Hunt, Week 22/2017: Too hot for painting…

Posted in 30k, 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, state of the hunt, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2017 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, as the title should already have told you, the last few days have been crazy hot over here, on the blasted plains of northwestern Jhermani, so getting anything painted was completely out of the question. Actually, so was just about anything else, really. But I did at least make some time for a spot of kitbashing, and have some results to share with you:

 

I. In the Shadow of Great Wings, pt. 1.5

You’ll probably still remember my recent conversion of Argel Tal’s daemonic form, a model I am still fairly pleased with, if I do say so myself:


But even while I was putting the finishing touches of Argel Tal’s daemonic version, it was already clear to me that I would eventually have to build another version of the character in his “normal” transhuman form, for whenever the daemonic essence of Raum hasn’t come out to play. It just wouldn’t have seemed like a complete project otherwise 😉

But my original plan was to actually put the alternate Argel Tal version off until some point in the indeterminate future (that’s where hobby projects go to die, in case you were wondering). Alas, it was not to be: I just had an innocent look at the descriptions of Argel Tal in The First Heretic and Betrayer, just for research purposes, you know — and before I knew it, I was halfway through the building process…

So here’s what I have so far:



Once again, a couple of conversion notes:

  • the armour was basically a no-brainer, as Argel Tal is described as wearing a suit of Mk. IV plate, so I mainly used plastic Mk. IV parts, with the notable exception of the breastplate (which is the same Raptor torso I also used for daemonic Argel Tal) and the arms (Mk. III arms, actually, chosen for looking a bit more ornate — only befitting an Astartes captain).
  • the Guardian Spear makes a return here, for obvious reasons. Once again, I chose to change the weapon’s haft, making it look more like a spear — actually, I basically had to go back and recreate the version daemonic Argel Tal is wielding, just for the sake of continuity 😉
  • the cape seemed like a nice way of giving the model some extra bulk and presence and make it read as an officer. It originally came from a half-complete Ivanus Enkomi model fellow hobbyist Augustus b’Raass sent me a while ago.
  • And finally, the head. Now I realise that this could be a divisive choice for some people, but I decided to go with the bare head from the Space Wolves character conversion sprue. Call me crazy, but I’ve somehow always imagined Argel Tal as having long-ish hair. And that particular head really came closest to the mental image of the character I’ve had in the back of my head ever since reading Betrayer. But if you find yourself hating this particular head, don’t fret: Like Kharn, Argel Tal will have an optional helmeted head as well:


Incidentally, there are actually very few conversions of non-daemonic Argel Tal conversions to be found, so I didn’t have much to work from. The one pretty cool depiction I found, however, was this piece of artwork courtesy of Noldonfinve:

artwork by Noldofinve

The piece even received ADB’s official blessing, so I thought it would be cool to take some visual cues from it when building my own version, and I think that worked out pretty well, wouldn’t you agree?

In closing, here’s how the more human Arge l Tal looks next to his buddy in crime:

 


And here’s a comparison showing both versions of the character:

Now all that remains is to actually get these two painted — this whole project has already spun off into enough of a distraction as it is… 😉

 

2. On The Road Again…

In other news, remember the Road Crew?

I realised when taking a look at a couple of my recent posts that it has been a rather long time since I’ve done anything INQ28 related, but that fantastic Sector Mechanicus terrain released recently, alongside Shadow War Armageddon has given me a taste to delve back into the depths of the underhives, and what better way to do that than to keep adding to my fun little band of misfits pictured above?

Now to remind you, the basic idea behind these guys is that they are a colourful collection of former gladiators, former pit slaves, mutants and other undesirables establishing their own little domain in the depths of the world of St. Sabasto’s Reach, a pretty sinister planet, even for 40k standards:

 

St. Sabasto’s Reach

An extremely rich hive world grown fat and depraved through slave trade and the exploitation of its mutant lower class.

The world originally earned its name when the Imperial Saint Sabasto rested here after his great victory on the fields of Belzifer, before engaging in the last stage of his holy crusade for the defense of Velsen against the forces of the Arch-enemy. While Sabasto’s crusade army was still magnificent at this point, it had also suffered heavy losses (a fact, it is argued by some contemporary Velsian historians, that contributed to Sabasto’s eventual defeat within the Veil of Impurity).

When the Saint contemplated the price in blood paid for the reclamation of Velsen, he decreed that the entire world of St. Sabasto’s Reach would be given to the orphans of the slain and that the Imperium would see to it that the children of martyrs would never need to go hungry. This spurred the planetary populace into religious fervor, and countless orphanages and scholae were opened in the saint’s name, earning the world bynames like “The Planet of Orphans” or “The Orphans’ Cradle”.

However, with a slow decline in piety and a general economic recession, many of the world’s orphanages have had to close over the centuries, while others have turned to a far darker trade, giving the world’s epithet a new, sinister meaning. It is true that Imperial organisations like the Schola Progenium, the Ecclesiarchy and even the Inquisition still maintain a presence on St. Sabasto’s Reach and recruit from the ranks of the homeless orphans, choosing the most talented or devout to serve in their respective organisations. And in the deeper levels of the world’s hives, missions and orphanages still offer a real, if meagre, chance for survival to this day. Yet that is only one face of St. Sabasto’s Reach. For at the same time, the world has also become the biggest fleshmarket in the entire Velsen Sector, providing human resources in a very literal sense, from mutant workers to household servants. Moreover, it is rumoured that there exists a slave for every kind of service in the almshouses and slave pits of St. Sabasto’s Reach, and the masters of the world have long prided themselves on being able to cater to every taste and desire, no matter how “eccentric” it may be.

Another mainstay of the world’s culture, the countless circuses and fighting arenas, are also fueled by a constant influx of “material” from the slave pits. At one point, the world’s renowned Circus Imperialis served as a front for a cult of chaos worshippers and was purged by the hand of Inquisitor Antrecht. But even after this upheaval, the remaining slavelords and ringmasters of St. Sabasto’s Reach quickly regained their step, slightly realigning themselves in the resulting power struggle and carving out a new pecking order among themselves. Because the Inquisition’s issue was never with the slave trade itself, but with the presence of heretics, and so the House of Blossoms, the Angelflesh Lodge and countless other establishments like them continue to ply their dark trade to this day…

 

One thing I have wanted to do with this project is to combine a number of established Necromunda archetypes (the Pit slaves and Scavvies in particular) and add a twist of my own. There’s also a fair bit of Mad Max-vibe going on with the project, but I could not quite work out how to emphasise that particular angle when these guys are actually based in the dark, dirty and cramped underhive.

I’ve watched quite a few Let’s Play videos of Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light, by way of YouTuber ChristopherOdd, lately. Both games are set in a postapocalyptic near future where a (nuclear) Third World War has likely wiped out most of the human population on earth. Underneath the ruins of Moscow, the survivors of the apocalypse have turned the Metro tunnels into their new habitat, creating a makeshift civilisation in the cramped confines of what used to be the metropolis’ transportation system. Now I have a bit of a thing for postapocalyptic scenarios anyway, but after immersing myself in the scenario, it hit me: The whole concept of subway tunnels becoming living spaces and an entire ecosystem, if you will, seemed like the missing puzzle piece that would allow me to push the Mad Max angle on my Road Crew project a bit more: What if the lower reaches of the Hiveworld are crisscrossed by a network of transportation tunnels originally created – and mostly still used – to move the vast amounts of goods necessary to keep the world’s overly bloated population alive? St. Sabasto’s Reach has a huge population, even for a Hiveworld, because its most important goods are people, but all of these have to be fed, even if they are only in transit. So I imagine a network of massive, highway-like tunnels far beneath the ground, with smaller maintenance tunnels, substations and similar spaces in between the cracks spiderwebbing off from the main branches of the network. And maybe the Road Crew has taken to raiding some of the transports travelling along those massive subterranean highways: That would allow me to incorporate elements that are typically Mad Max, even vehicles. So with my creativity thus reinvigorated, I assembled some new recruits for the gang:

Now I am actually cheating a bit here, because both the guy with the chainsaw on the left and the guy with the gun on the right were originally built before I had even started thinking about the Road Crew. And yet, without a few minor tweaks, they became pretty cool new parts of the project — I actually love it when a project finally provides a new home to some stray conversions from years ago 😉

The guy in the middle is new, however, and I am pretty proud of him. Meet Cirque:

I don’t think I will ever tire of the particular look that a combination of Ork parts (with their somewhat grotesque, overmuscled appearance and clunky technology) and human sized components will give you — almost the perfect recipe for mutants, if you ask me.

And there’s the Road Crew’s ride, of course, a slightly touched up Gorkamorka Trukk that has become far too small for modern Orks, yet should work really well for my merry band of postapocalyptic ne’er do wells:

Now if only the heat would let up for a couple of days, I could maybe get some of the above painted — keep your fingers crossed for me 😉

Anyway, so much for today’s update. It goes without saying that I would love to hear any thoughts you might have!

And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

The State of the Hunt, Week 7/2017

Posted in 40k, Blood Bowl, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, state of the hunt, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2017 by krautscientist

As it turns out, last week’s decision to force myself to actually sit down and paint something was really for the best: Not only did it result in a model I am really, really happy with — I’ve also managed to keep the creative spark alive until now. So even though I am currently suffering from a rather nasty case of the flu, I have still finished some more hobby related stuff. So let’s take about some of the recent developments today:

 

I. A Chaotic Tome

One of the more frustrating parts of the 2016 Christmas season was my attempt to get hold of a) the Traitor Legions Codex Supplement, b) Canoness Veridyan and c) the Index Chaotica book. The Canoness, in particular, sold out about three or four times, and once the model was finally back in stock, the Index Chaotica was gone for good — or at least that’s what it looked like then.

index-chaotica-1
Enter fellow hobbyist Augustus b’Raass (whose fantastic work you might want to check out here, by the way): Auggs was nice enough to swing by the Amsterdam GW store, pick up a spare copy of the book and send it my way — that was really awesome and yet another proof that this hobby of ours is full of wonderfully generous and thoughtful people!

As for the book itself, while I am writing this, it seems to be back in stock, so is it worth it? I’d say so, yes. The cynic in me wants to poke fun at the fact that it’s basically a – ever so slightly haphazard – collection of pre-published content, but then the stuff from Realm of Chaos, for instance, is only really available in the original books, and you’ll be paying through the nose if you want to obtain one of those. Plus the vintage chaos content is simply that good: sinister, evil, spiky and occasionally darkly humorous. And some of the classic artwork is still spectacular.

For instance, I was elated to find within the book a wonderfully vibrant reproduction of Geoff Taylor’s iconic World Eaters illustration. In spite of being decidedly old skool, it has also managed to age incredibly well, if you ask me:

index-chaotica-2
There’s also this WFB-chaos centric piece from the same artist that actually almost seems like a companion piece of the World Eaters picture:

index-chaotica-3
I still remember when this image appeared on the box of the Chaotic paints set (Tentacle Pink FTW!), and I was spellbound and tried to figure out what I was actually seeing — the lumbering war machine in the back was especially fascinating, as it subtly hinted at a WFB/40k connection. From a modern standpoint, I’d say it’s actually a depiction of a Lord of War, a Khornate daemon engine from Epic 40k that eventually grew into the modern Lord of Skulls. It also serves as living proof of how much more awesome GW artwork was when it didn’t limit itself to picturing available models — but that’s a subject for another time.

Speaking of Khorne, the Khornate content alone is basically worth the price of admission and should provide me with lots and lots of new ideas. And while the internet will provide you with lots and lots of fuzzy scans of vintage GW artwork, there are still some surprises to be had here, among them an elusive Jes Goodwin sketch for a dedicated heavy support World Eater:

index-chaotica-4
Actually, Jes Goodwin’s design sketches are yet another reason to pick up the book: I cannot help marveling at the quality of his concepts for the four cult legions and the original 2nd edition CSM special characters –incredible stuff!
Oh, and let me just state for the record that the book obviously wouldn’t have been complete without the wonderful berzerker on the right courtesy of Mark Gibbons! 🙂

So anyway, I’ve spent some very enjoyable weeks going back and forth through the book and immersing myself in the rich background for the chaos powers. I am ever so thankful to Augustus b’Raass for getting me a copy, and I suppose I’ll have to come up with something special in order to make it up to him — cheers, buddy! 🙂

 

II. A Merry Band of Misfits

I didn’t merely spend my time browsing through iconic chaos content from the yesteryear, though: Some of you might remember this little project here from last year: The Road Crew:

the-road-crew-2016
Now this little warband project was basically started as a fun diversion (and as a way to channel some of the influences from the Mad Max universe), but before I realised it, it had already started to take on a life of its own, coagulating into a little retinue.

The basic idea here was to start with some of the pit slave tropes introduced by Necromunda, but move beyond those character archetypes to include mutants, gunmen or even former Imperial adepts and shape them into a gang of malcontents that have disappeared between the cracks of the 41st millennium.

Now if you take a look at the image above, you’ll realise that there are already quite a few beefy warrior types — but this outfit still needed some brains. That’s why I built this guy last year:

Doc WIP (5)
Where the more gladiatorial types are muscular and crudely augmented, I wanted a gaunt and more delicate look for the brainy guy, and a combination of AdMech parts led to an outcome that was pretty close to my vision. The interesting task was to make a model that is so different from a structural standpoint look like it still belonged with the group. I tried to achieve that via a suitably strong paintjob, and here’s the result of that little endeavour:

solon-antonov-1
solon-antonov-2
solon-antonov-3
solon-antonov-6
solon-antonov-4
This is Solon Antonov, nicknamed “The Doktor”, formerly a low to mid-tier member of the Adeptus Mechanicus who stationed on St. Sabasto’s Reach to select suitable slaves to undergo augmetic modification and be transported off-world, to spend the rest of their sad lives toiling away in one of the mines or forges of the Velsian Adeptus Mechanicus. But, surprising enough for a man mostly made from metal by this point, Antonov discovered he still had a heart after all, and absconded with a group of slaves. Ever since, he has been the brains behind the “Road Crew”, tasked both with planning their activities and with the “maintenance” of its various members.

As you can see, I used the exact same colours on Antonov and the gladiators, with the scratched and damaged yellow armour serving as the element that really pulls the models together. I was actually happy enough with the outcome that I started to work on the next model right away. This little guy here:

Twist Witch Doctor (1)
I thought a mutant witch doctor type would nicely expand the character of the warband beyond a mere gang of pitslaves, even if this guy may initally seem a bit far out. Anyway, he’s still a little rough around the edges and needs some finishing touches, but here are some photos of the nearly finished model:

twist-witch-doctor-1
twist-witch-doctor-2
twist-witch-doctor-3
twist-witch-doctor-4
All in all, this project is a lot of fun, because it allows for some very organic kitbashing and painting. It’s also a nice vehicle for telling a somewhat more intimate story: These guys aren’t part of the fight for the Emperor’s soul, they just want to get by. That being said, it’s kinda interesting to explore the contrast between their humanity and their somewhat distressed, grotesque outer appearances.

So here’s the entire gang so far. Meet the Road Crew:

the-road-crew-early-2017-2
From left to right: Crusher Vexx, Tiny (the Road Crew’s battle captain), Doktor Antonov, Grimspyke, Chopper and the PIP twist witch doctor (if anyone has a cool idea for a name, I’d love to hear it).

So what’s in store for the Road Crew? I think there’ll be one or two additional members, and a suitable ramshackle ride for them — I already have a plan on that account. Keep your eyes peeled! 😉

 

III. A Squig-shaped Surprise

And last but definitely not least, imagine my surprise when I visited my friend Annie last week for one of our semi-regular painting sessions, only to present me with two wonderfully characterful squig-shaped dice for my Blood Bowl team, the Orkheim Ultraz:

squig-shaped-counters
These lovely little models can be picked up at Comixininos, and they should make for excellent turn/reroll counters for my team! And I really love how Annie painted them to perfectly match the colours of the Orkheim Ultraz:

orkheim-ultraz-early-2017
Thanks so much for the amazing gift, Annie! 🙂

By the way, we’ll be taking a closer look at one of Annie’s Blood Bowl teams in the near future, if only to show you her fairly different approach as well as her balls-to-the-wall crazy and creative ideas for the team. You should definitely look forward to that!
So yeah, as you can see, I am finally back into the swing of things! And I would love to hear any feedback you might have — just drop me a comment or two! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Meanwhile, aboard the Arrke… pt.2

Posted in 40k, Battle report, Conversions, Inq28, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2013 by krautscientist

It’s been almost a week since the last game set aboard the Arrke, and a huge cache of delicious information about the event has since turned up on the net. So like I promised, let’s take another look at this strange and demented world, and let me finally show you my dear Legion in action:

I’ll be honest with you: After having sent the model to England, I was of course dying to know how it would all play out: Would Legion fit the overall aesthetics of the game? Would he blend in well with Neil’s fantastic board? Would John Blanche and all those other talented guys like the model?

And then I checked my e-mail account on Saturday, to discover that none other than John Blanche himself had sent me a snapshot of Legion in action:

Legion at home (1)

Look at you, Hacker! …no, wait, wrong game!

I really couldn’t have been any happier! And I am only a little ashamed to admit that I spent quite a while during that afternoon repeatedly pressing F5, in order to see whether there were any news from the Arrke. And, indeed, John was good enough to send me multiple pictures during the game. Thanks so much, JB!

By all accounts, it must have been a fantastic event! And now that lots and lots of pictures from the event have started turning up, everybody can see the glory of it all: The amount of crazy modelling and painting talent on display was stupenduous. And what’s more, PDH somehow managed to weave it all into one game and one narrative, even though it must have been a pretty busy afternoon aboard the Arrke.

Anyway, let’s take a look at some more photos of our favourite insane AdMech monstrosity, shall we? All of the following pictures were very kindly provided by Neil101, by the way.

Legion at home (2)

Legion emerging from the Arrke’s dark nooks and crannies. Check out that fantastic, flaking paint on the wall in the background!

Legion at home (8)

Some time later, Legion is gazing across the derelict and rusty halls of the Myth Shippe from a lofty vantage point.

Legion at home (5)

And finally, having arrived at the banks of the vile Sump, Legion casts a contemplative glance across the frothing waters — awfully introspective for a biomechanic monstrosity, isn’t he?

Legion at home (6)

I really love how the Cult of the True Journey’s sniper seems to be drawing a bead on Legion in this picture

And finally, what has to be my favourite picture of Legion to date, taken by Fulgrim:

Legion at home (7)
As you can see, Legion does indeed look like he’s emerging from the very underbelly of the Arrke itself. I am very pleased that I managed to achieve that!

So what about all the other amazing models? Though I would like dearly to post them, I won’t do that. Not in order to keep all the glory for myself, mind you: I think you should really head over to the other guys’ respective blogs to check out what they have to say about their marvelous creations! And don’t fret, I’ll provide a handy list of links for your perusal. You ABSOLUTELY need to check out this stuff! Seriously!

To begin, Fulgrim has started a brilliant writeup of the event, introducing all the different gangs and walking us through the narrative (with lots of pretty pictures):

Arrke retour

Part I
Part II
Part III

I imagine the series will be running for the rest of the week. And I, for one, can’t wait to read more of this stuff!

 

Then there’s JRN’s Sump Huntress Hanin. A class act, as usual!

 

The Spiky Rat Pack don’t disappoint either, with Kari posting his brilliant Stryderre, complete with sinister poetry, and Mikko’s Living Coffin following hot on his heels.

 

And finally, be sure to check out PDH’s Yggdrassillium threads at Dakka and the Ammobunker. Again, lots of pretty pictures and well deserved awe.

And while you’re there, don’t forget leaving a nice word or two for PDH himself: It only becomes clear now what a spectacular job he has managed to pull off with this: Models from several countries, lots and lots of characters, and he even had to GM the whole thing. The mind boggles!

 

So, once again, a million thank yous to everyone involved! It’s been a pleasure, and I have certainly never had so much fun with an event without even being present 😉

To wind up this post, just because I can, let me share a picture of Neil’s spectacular Arrke board:

Legion at home (4)
The only question is: How are we ever going to surpass this? 😉

In any case, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Meanwhile, aboard the Arrke…

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, paintjob, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2013 by krautscientist

I’ve stated before that interacting with other hobbyists in general and blogging in particular can offer many exciting hobby opportunities. Today, I would like to show you one particular project that only happened because of the exchange between various bloggers and hobbyists. It’s also one of the most exciting hobby opportunities I have ever had, but all in good time. Now, what is this about?

If you frequent the same, dark corners of the 40k blogosphere as me, you may have heard of the Arrke and the Yggdrasillium Pilgrimage (unnervingly, never to be spelled quite the same way twice 😉 ) — and if you haven’t, let me give you the gist of it: Some time ago, a group of players including, among others, PDH, Neil101, Fulgrim and none other than John Blanche himself, started playing a series of games set on the “Arrke”, a huge, derelict fusion of countless vessels drifting through space. This huge space hulk is home to many demented and strange people and creatures, yet it is also so ancient and so enormous that most of its denizens have forgotten that they are actually living on a spacefaring vessel in the first place: What remains of their original respective cultures and backgrounds has become as warped as their bodies and minds, and the ship itself has become a world unto itself, encompassing both a strange and unforgiving ecosystem as well as a sinister and unique society. The initial idea for this vessel came from John Blanche, and all of the events play out on the breathtaking “Yggdrasilium” table built by Neil101. I’d love to link you to Neil’s blog to give you a chance to learn more about this fantastic adventurescape, but alas, he has decided to delete it. You still can (and definitely should) check out his Dakka thread on the subject, though, along with Fulgrim’s blog and PDH’s thread, describing the gang of chaos misfits he built for the games aboard the Arrke.

Anyway, I learned of these games and the strange world they were set in through the various threads and blogs linked above, and I was fascinated by the whole project: These guys were basically using tweaked Necromunda rules for their games, yet they had come up with something entirely unique on both the narrative and modelling/painting side of things. So I gobbled up all that I could learn about the Arrke and its denizens and kept marveling at the sinister brilliance of it all.

Now, imagine my surprise when PDH contacted my with a very special proposal: He suggested that a couple of hobbyists (PDH himself, Tears of Envy, Migsula, Jakob Rune Nielsen, First Points of Aries, Kari and Mikko from Spiky Rat Pack and me) should each build and paint a character to be used in the next game set aboard the Arrke. We could come up with whatever character we wanted, provided it fit into the setting. And all of the models would be given to John Blanche as a gift after the game.

I think it’s quite obvious by now why an offer like that would have me very ecxited indeed.

Anyway, I was really honoured that PDH would include me in this, and I was quick to accept. The next days were spent pondering what kind of model I wanted to contribute. And I quickly realised that I wanted to do some kind of Adeptus Mechanicus character, or, at least, creature. And, given the background, the character would have to be really creepy and sinister. That was quite a challenge, because members of the Machine Cult can be scary enough on their best days, but I was gunning for something even more disturbing…

So I asked myself: Why would a priest of the Ommissiah board the Arrke in the first place? And what could go wrong if he did? Drawing inspiration from all kinds of sources, ranging from everything ever done by David Lynch to videogames like System Shock 2 and Bioshock and to the decidedly lowbrow, yet horribly visceral horror film Virus, I came up with the concept of a band of Adeptus Mechanicus explorators, boarding the Arrke in search of lost technology and being transformed into something …else.

And thus, Legion was born.

Here’s my initial concept for the character:

 

The creature known to the denizens of the Arrke as “Legion” is what remains of an enterprising group of Explorator Magi, sent out by the Tech Priests of Mars. The Magi were sure that the ancient vessel would house an unfathomable cache of lost technology and miracles from the Dark Age of Technology. They were right in this, yet the price for such knowledge would turn out to be far greater than they had envisioned.

A team of explorators, accompanied by their Skitarii retinue, came aboard the Arrke and began a quest to uncover the ancient ship’s technological secrets. Initially, the Magi were pleased, for there were many secrets uncovered, and much was learned. They were already considering themselves heroes of their order and imagining their triumphant return to Mars with their many discoveries in tow. Alas, it was not to be.

For the Arrke does not take kindly to strangers, and so the explorators found themselves beset on all sides by the vessel’s strange and demented denizens as well as by environmental hazards and the powers of the Warp. With their Skitarii bodyguard all but wiped out, and some of the Magi themselves succumbing to the hostile environment, the Tech Priests did the only logical thing: They pooled their resources, in order to protect the valuable technological knowledge they had acquired: Whenever one of them was critically wounded, his working remains would be integrated into another Magos’ brain and body, thus protecting the knowledge and strenghtening the survivors. The remaining Magi thus became walking treasure troves of knowledge. But something went wrong.

Maybe it was the taint of the Warp, maybe it was the desperate nature of the Tech Priests’ struggle, but their fusion turned out to be flawed and incomplete. Corruption slowly seeped into their neural engrams, and what would normally have been a standard procedure for the disciples of the Mechanicum slowly turned into a nightmare.

The resulting creature is a horrifying amalgamation of the explorators’ bodies and minds, malformed and insane, its mind fractured into countless shards, its body misshapen and terrifying, yet utterly deadly. Legion now eternally prowls the deepest reaches of the Arrke in its half-remembered quest to find a way back to the red star. But even though a wealth of technological information and scientific marvels still lies protected within the creature’s twisted shell and mind, one shudders to imagine what would happen if the erstwhile explorators would somehow manage to escape their eternal prison and be let loose upon the galaxy…

 

With this basic idea outlined, I thought about what I wanted Legion to look like. Like I said, tech priests are scary enough in any case, so I tried to come up with an even more strange and corrupted look exploring the fusion of organic and machine parts, with a generous helping of body horror ladeled on top. Here’s a – very early and horribly rough – sketch of Legion:

Legion_sketch
As you might be able to tell, I wanted to use the plastic Cairn Wraith as the base for this conversion, even at this early stage. Several people have used the model to great effect to convert disturbing AdMech characters, so I thought this was a good base. I would then add all kinds of technical bitz as well as two very creepy “tendrils”, secondary creatures serving as additional parts of Legion. All of the creature’s different components would have sinuous, serpentine bodies, the better to move and wiggle through the Arrke’s dark nooks and crannies.

Obviously, the first step was to get the plastic Cairn Wraith, so of course that was where everything started:

Legion WIP (1)
I just used the Cairn Wraith’s cloak, discarding the scythe, inner body, face and base. I used a 40k servo skull as a replacement head, and the remains of a lasher tendril from the Forgefiend kit served as the base of Legion’s serpentine body. In the picture above, you can see the first basic build, attached to a Terminator base with a lump of putty.

I then added more and more technical bitz and doodads to the main body, making it look more and more like something that had originally begun its existence as a tech priest. Here’s the finished main body:

Legion WIP (2)
Legion WIP (3)
Legion WIP (4)
Legion WIP (5)
The most obvious addition was that of a GK Psy-gun on the model’s back, both to give it some potential oomph on the table and to create a strange, malproportioned look. I also added a ghoul hand to give the model a clawlike, organic left hand, and a vestigial arm from the Dark Eldar Talos/Cronos kit for a wicked looking scalpel-like right hand. To represent the “neural network” created by several Magi being fused together within Legion’s body, I added an additional servo skull beneath the first one, as well as two more “regular” skulls. I imagine the actual body beneath the cloak to be a horrible cluster of skulls plugged into each other with cables, serving as what is, for all intents and purposes, the 40k version of a Local Area Network.

The next step was to build Legion’s secondary tendrils. Once again, I used leftover lasher tendril pieces for a serpentine lower body. The rest of the tendrils was built from different Zombie and undead parts, more vestigial Talos arms, a couple of cables and some Greenstuff.

Here’s a very early mockup of the first tendril:

Legion WIP (7)
While the look was there, I wanted the tendrils to be far more disturbing and horrible. So I tried my best to make the tendrils look even more malformed and disgusting. Here’s the same tendril, some time later:

Legion WIP (13)
Legion WIP (12)
Legion WIP (11)
I wanted Legion to look like its transformation and evolution had not been a well-planned process but had rather happened spontaneously and chaotically. So this tendril looks like the body of a Magos has been crudely grafted onto the serpentine body, with only one arm remaining. Greenstuff was used to create a crude seam between the organic and machine parts.

I wanted the other tendril to look more combative, so I added an additional arm, with two of the creature’s arms tipped in cruel claws and blades:

Legion WIP (8)
Legion WIP (9)
Legion WIP (10)
Crude bionic eyes were added to a flagellant head to make the face look inhuman and threatening. I also added a cable from a servo skull as some kind of horrible, proboscis-like tongue.

When it came to actually painting the model, I wanted to achieve a striking contrast between distressed flesh and cold, oily metal. I began with the tendrils, picking out the major areas in different colours:

Legion WIP (19)
Legion WIP (18)
Legion WIP (17)
Legion WIP (16)
Legion WIP (15)
A combination of different washes (mostly Ogryn Flesh, Leviathan Purple and Baal Red) was used to make the skin look bruised and sickly. The metal parts were heavily washed with GW Nuln Oil to give them a dark, oily look.

Legion’s main body was painted in a similar way, although I decided to paint his cloak a striking red, in order to make him more recognisable as a former member of the Mechanicum. I had originally planned to make the red look bleached out and dirty, but seeing the cloak after painting it with GW Mephiston Red, I realised that this kind of spot colour was just what I wanted:

Legion WIP (23)
Some washes were used in the recesses of the cloak, though, to at least make it look suitably dirty and grimy. As you can see, I also added a striking blue to the different bionic eyes to create a point of focus.

And in the picture below, you can see the additional skulls in Legion’s stomach region quite well:

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I’ll be honest with you: It took ages until I was finally satisfied with the different parts of the model. But a challenge like this doesn’t happen every day, so I absolutely wanted to give it my best shot.

When all of Legion’s components were finally finished, I still had to build and paint a base and decide how the different parts of the model should be attached to it. In my initial drawing, I had planned for all tendrils to emerge from under the red cloak. But not only did that seem pretty hard to get right, but I also realised that it would potentially be far more creepy to have several tendrils emerge from the same hole in the ground, making it look like the three aspects of Legion were maybe just tendrils of a much larger creature…

One interesting option would have been to have the different parts of Legion on different bases. That would also have allowed for some pretty interesting rules options. In the end though, due to the time allotted for the project,  I chose to rather go for one really cool base instead of three okayish ones. But if there had been more time (and if I hadn’t been so damn lazy), I might have put the different tendrils on multiple bases.

When it came to the one base I did want to build, I wanted it to blend into Neil’s fantastic Yggdrasillium board as well as possible, making it look like Legion was emerging from the very surroundings, not so much a character but rather an environmental hazard. I wanted to create some kind of opening or pipe for Legion to emerge from, so I built a basic construction from a Predator turret hatch and plasticard pieces I cut from an old phone card. Then I heavily coated the construction in wood glue to close all the gaps and create a bulgy, warped surface. And I added modelling sand and small pieces of cork on top to create dirt and gravel. Then the whole thing was undercoated black. Here’s a test fit of Legion’s body parts on the undercoated base:

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When painting the base, I let myself be inspired by PDH’s fantastic scenic bases, trying to make it as rusty and grimy as I possibly could. I painted the whole construction a dark green, with the dirt and gravel picked out in brown. The whole base was then liberally washed in GW Agrax Earthshade. Then I used thinned down GW Vermin Brown as a wash, creating a rust effect. And finally, The edges were picked out in GW Boltgun metal to show scratches and nicks in the colour, with the metal appearing beneath. Here’s the finished base:

Legion WIP (27)
I also added some Tamiya Clear Red to one side of the grate, making it look like Legion had dragged some unfortunate victim to its doom…

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Oh, and I used a hazard stripe decal from the CSMs decal sheet, suitably aging and weathering it along the way:

Legion WIP (26)
And so it finally came to attaching all the parts of Legion to the base. Finding a configuration that worked took some doing, but in the end, I succeeded. So without further ado, I give you Legion:

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Legion (21)
Legion (22)

Legion (25)
Legion (27)
Legion (20)

Legion (19)

Legion (18)

Legion (24)
Legion (28)

Probably the biggest part of the adventure was actually sending Legion to England. But the postal service didn’t let me down for once, so everything went well. Now, looking back on the model after having spent so long working on it and obsessing over every detail, I am not really sure how to feel about it. I am happy with the model, without a doubt, but will it hold up when stood alongside models from enormously talented artists such as PDH, JRN and the Spiky Rats? Don’t get me wrong, I am really happy with how Legion turned out, but all the small imperfections are also driving me up the wall at the same time 😉
Maybe it’s just the fact that I will actually have to let some very talented people take a firsthand look at this piece — so no hiding behind fuzzy photos this time! And, of course, I hope John Blanche himself will like the model. Oh well, there’s no crying over spilt milk, I guess…

In any case, what really surprises me is how close the finished model is to my inital sketch. I am also amazed by how much I found myself thinking about Legion as a character…or at least, as a creature: I have a very vivid (and actually quite unpleasant) image of Legion in my mind: a creepy and sinister figure, perpetually surrounded by disturbing whispers and bursts of corrupted code language as the remains of the integrated Magi are communicating and argueing, with some of them almost perfectly sane while others are completely mad, full of rage, or just spouting untintellegible gibberish (I don’t know if any of you are into videogames, but if you are, picture the different cores of GlaDOS in Portal, or the different voices of the dark goddess Xel’ lothat in Eternal Darkness, turned up to eleven, and you’re not too far off the mark).

One of the personalities could be ceaselessly reciting the Mechanicus main tenets. Another might still be sane enough to broadcast intelligible Imperial/Mechanicus distress signals (System Shock 2, anyone?). Still another might be constantly reciting all kinds of disturbing Madness Mantras  (“We are many. We are one. We are many. We are one…” or  “Make whole that which was shattered. Make whole that which was shattered. Make whole…”). Also, PDH came up with this disturbing image of some of the denizens of the Arrke hacking into some random cable or mechanical bit during their exploration of the ship, then hearing bellowed binary screams and see the cable retracting, only to be faced with one of Legion’s “tendril creatures”.

Then there’s also that idea I briefly outlined above: Maybe those three tendrils aren’t really the whole creature, but only points of interface with the outside world, not unlike the lure of an Anglerfish. Maybe they connect back to the lair of the actual creature: a subterranean cavern filled with cogitators and technical equipment, much like a dragon’s hoard. The real Legion resides within this cavern: a vast, entropic and incomprehensible creature…

So, in any case, I think the concept of Legion is really just as disturbing and creepy as I wanted it to be. Whether the actual model lives up to it is not for me to decide, yet of one thing I am sure: Legion makes for a fitting new denizen for the mysterious Arrke…

So, to wind this up, let me give you one more picture of Legion, along with a broken little nursery rhyme that I came up with — written in true Yggdrassilliumme style 😉

Oh, and should you wish to use Legion (or something like Legion) in your games of Necromunda, number cruncher and all around great guy PDH has you covered with some rules he cooked up:

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In the bowels of the shippe
Dwells a being most unkynde
Knowledge wyll from metal strippe
Passage to the red starr fynde.

Legion, Legion, he is many.
Legion, Legion, they are one.

Legion

M WS BS S T W I A Ld
4 3 3 4 4 2 4 D3 10

Weapons – Laser Blaster, Mechanical Claws

Short Long Short Long Strength Damage Save Mod Ammo
0-8 8-24 +1 3 1 3+ Sustained Fire Dice


Special:
Binary Scream (Fear),  Immune to Psychology, Never Pinned 

Fractured Psyche: At the beginning of each turn, roll on the following table to determine Legion’s actions

1-2: Flesh is weak. Purge the organic! – 50/50 chance of shooting or charging.
3-4: Obtain knowledge – Will move towards the nearest mechanical object/terrain and then spend the turn examining it.
5-6: To the red starr! – Will move as quickly as possible in a random direction. If Legion comes into contact with a model, it will count as charging but will break off from combat at the end of the turn, continuing to get away.

 

So yeah, I realise that was quite a post! I understand the game in question has already taken place earlier today, so there’ll be some quite a bit more information soon, I guess. Look forward to learning more about Legion in action, as well as about the fantastic entries from all the other hobbyists involved.

Until then, I’d be happy to hear any feedback you might have on Legion, so drop me a line or two in the comments section!

And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!