Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The Iron Sleet Invitational - Take Two

Well, I managed to get four of my squaddies ready for the Iron Sleet Invitational, but I was delayed with the officer for lack of a torso. Anyway, I was kindly given a week to finish him and retake the photos for the Sleeters big reveal. Despite a couple of modelling dead-ends and a minor design shuffle, I got him finished in record time (well, a personal best anyway).



I decided that a mounted officer was the way to go, so I packed his horse with the same distribution of equipment seen on the cavalrymen in WW1. The steed is also wearing a style of gasmask seen in the latter months of the war (which covered the muzzle, but didn't include glass lenses for the eyes). I've already talked about the differences in swords between officers and NCOs, so whilst my sergeant has one forged in their thousands on an assembly line, my lieutenant one bespoke, crafted by artificers (although it is his father's sword - my lieutenant is young, given his commission by virtue of his family's social standing; the Thorn Moons is his first field of battle).  

I remounted my boys on a 1912 copy of the Kings Regulations that I found in the depths of my library for added flavour.





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Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The Iron Sleet Invitational

It's about time I wrote something about it seeing as I've been beavering away at my guardsmen for a goodly fortnight. The Sleeter's terms were simple; to explore the nightmarish future of the 41st Millennium through the eyes of the humble guardsman. It certainly is an interesting proposal and one that I've seen interpreted a number of different ways by other modellers. Some have chosen to focus on a cohesive look for their regiment, whilst others have gone for a riotous band of individuals.

I'd like to think that I've gone for the middle ground with my interpretation; a cohesive look for my regiment and adding a smattering of individual touches. Another thing I noticed when I first started was that the feudalism aesthetic was flavour of the month, so I had to rethink my approach. In the end I went in a direction I'd gone before; the WW1 aesthetic.


For me, the first World War is perhaps the closest real life event we have that mirrors what war is like in the 41st Millennium; they had vast advances in technology but their military tactics hadn't really advanced much since the Napoleonic era. I've also read it described as the most brutal war mankind has ever fought, not to mention the accounts of the veterans who described trench warfare on the frontlines to be the closest thing to a genuine hell on earth.

I did not seek to glorify the nature of that war in my aesthetic, nor caricature the very real nightmare those veterans suffered in those four hellish years, but rather hope to present these two theme in a very visceral way. However, it has occurred to me only now that the deadline is upon us, that Remembrance Sunday is just around the corner.

So it is that the Albion IV 'Iron' Corps, 27th (Mercia) Division, 94th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Battalion, Y Company march to war in the Thorn Moons. As one of the first field armies of the Imperial Crusade into the Crataegus Fragmentum, they were also one of the first to make planetfall into the meatgrinder. These five represent perhaps the last of the Albion IV, cut off from their own, they can only hope to regroup with a friendly force before they're all lost.....





They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labours of the day-time;
They sleep beside the Emperor's Throne.
 

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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Gotterdammerung


The city of Götterdämmerung in the Realm of Ulgu has more than its share of dangers. Those who live out their lives within its walls enjoy more security than those without, providing they know how to ward their homes against the dead and daemonic, stay out of certain neighborhoods, and are careful not to anger the alchemist who lives next door. Of course, every day pallid bards spin tales about those unfortunates who made that one mistake every living thing is supposed to be allowed and wound up on a slab in the city morgue. If they are lucky, the coroner won’t turn out to be a closet necromancer who’d have them shambling around, preying on the living, until the city watchmen get around to brutally putting them to rest once and for all. If they are unlucky, their relatives saved a few coins by slapping them in the ground at a poorly guarded cemetery, where they’d stay until a resurrectionist dug them up for parts or auction the body to the highest (and often the most unsavoury) bidder….and this was all before the coming of the braying hordes of the ruinous powers.



Within a day, everything changed. It started with long-hidden cults, worshipping both the long-forgotten gods of Order and Chaos, tearing at each other in the streets of the city. Next thing you knew, you couldn’t throw a dead cultist without hitting a minor civil war in progress. But it wasn’t a war for territory — no, this was a fight for the very souls of the populous. Before long, the howling armies of Chaos were battering against the city walls. That wasn’t the worst of it. Mortals didn’t fight this war alone. Dark things that legends spoke of only in hushed whispers could be seen from the battlements, a soldier might find his comrade suddenly possessed whilst in combat and aberrant creatures of pure nightmare ambulated over the hills on a multitude of twisted limbs. The ruling guilds, fearing the worst, fled through the realmgate in the centre of the city before it fell silent, leaving the rest of Gotterdammerung to their fates and without leadership.



As swiftly as it began, it was over. There was no winner and it is likely the battle simply moved on to another field, somewhere else, but given that one moment the siege raged on all around them and then the enemy seemingly disappeared the next, the populous were given to believe the (now popular) myth that the shadows of Ulgu simply devoured them. Whilst some of the city lay in ruins, Gotterdammerung had largely weathered the ferocious storm but was forever changed. Those non-mortal entities who survived faded into the shadowed alleyways of the city, maybe waiting for the day when the ruinous powers were in ascendant again. With the loss of the ruling guilds, the remaining senior officers gathered an ad hoc martial council, imposing strict curfews and began the laborious task of rebuilding the shattered quarters of the city.



The biggest change was in the shadow-wolds beyond the city walls. The flora and fauna that had always thrived there increased in number during the war and with the corrupting influence of the chaotic hordes became something altogether more dangerous. With the standing militia of Gotterdammerung refusing to leave the city walls to keep them in check anymore, those who do venture out of the city — by choice or misfortune — face the perils at their own risk. Even before the coming of Chaos, navigable roads were few and far between as much of the shadow-wolds could not be charted due to the constantly shifting landscape. It doesn’t help either that the wilderness beyond the city walls (as does Gotterdammerung itself) exists in a perpetual twilight, choked by thick fog which appears to be more shadow than mist. More than a few travellers have found themselves arriving at their destinations far sooner than they’d planned, having wandered through an umbral-cantrip, or never arriving at all, doomed to an eternity of wandering adrift upon unfamiliar tracts. All that most of the populous can hope is to hide in the relative safety of the city and hope its fortifications are strong enough to keep the creatures out. As the years rolled on, some people liked to pretend that the unnatural, the cursed, and the damned don’t really exist. That they were exaggerations of history or the products of hysteria. But the truth is that things other than human have always been a part of Gotterdammerung, only more visible at certain times than others.



Gotterdammerung is now more isolated than before and the populous are forced to become self-sufficient or starve. Massive allotments were tilled around the city on the grounds of buildings that were razed during the war. Similarly, gargantuan abattoirs were constructed to both breed and slaughter livestock. Anyone caught poaching or tampering with either of these receives an automatic sentence of death.



However, after centuries of interminable silence, the city’s realmgate suddenly reactivated and from it strode forth giants in shining armour haloed in a blue-white light. They weren’t welcomed with awe but rather deep suspicion and the Martial Court of Gotterdammerung were largely disinterested in a return to the worship of Sigmar (indeed, even today, Stormcast are a rare sight on the streets of Gotterdammerung). The traders that followed were perhaps more accepted if not, at least, appreciated and these days Gotterdammerung relies heavily on the trade that comes through the realmgate. Indeed, such is the greed of the city now after so long under the sufferance of relative poverty that rarely is anyone turned away; all are neither welcome nor unwelcome in Gotterdammerung, regardless of their racial characteristics or backgrounds (real or falsified), but all are carefully surveilled by the city watchmen and the paranoid inhabitants.



Today, Gotterdammerung’s inhabitants can be divided into three broad categories: those who can pass for human, those who can’t, and those of the shadow-wolds beyond the city wall. The first broadly covers aelves, duardin and anything else that looks near-Human (or can make itself look that way). Even soulblight vampires and necromancers (often fleeing from the despotic regime of Nagash in Shyish to the only other realm they can survive permanently in). These find it easiest to coexist with humans in the city, can move about with a degree of freedom and, in some places, have gained a measure of acceptance. This won’t save them from being hunted down by the city watch (or the dreaded Judexi of Sigmar) though, if enough deaths are traced to their door or they flagrantly break any one of Gotterdammerung’s many (and sometimes bizarre) laws.



The second group are those who, usually because of how they look, stand out in a crowd. Prejudice and fear (most of it justified) keeps them in the shadows - should they care. While some aren’t completely inhuman, such as Orruks (and other Greenskins), Sylvaneth and Ogors, they’re often considered to be entirely uncivilised and prone to unpredictable behaviour which makes them dangerous neighbours. Their natures make them often appear utterly outlandish to the normally distrusting residents (although most cannot tell the differences between a Dryad and a Daemon) and have come to be regarded in most districts of Gotterdammerung as undesirables. Perhaps the most dangerous are those grotesque creatures that have either never been mortal or are simply too freakish to be believed to exist (who hasn’t heard the lunatic tales of rats the size of men?), that skulk and stalk in the darkest corners of the city.



Despite the efforts of the city watch it is rarely peaceful on darkened streets of the city, and any sense of security is tenable at best. Cults of all kinds are on the rise again, doomsayers cry of grim omens, the lunatic and demented grow in number daily, the dead rarely remain where they’re left, skirmishes and riots breakout on regular occasions and denizens who have long survived in the shadows are drawn out by the smell of spilt blood. The Martial Court try to keep the lid on as the body count goes up but now, more than ever, those who can handle a blade or bow, incant protective wards, sling fireballs from thin air or simply pound an enemy into gristle with their bare hands are in demand. The Martial Court, city watch, and innumerable businesses are all hiring skilled freelancers to take on jobs that need doing. For somebody who knows their way around a fight or a grimoire, the only thing easier to find than employment these days is a quick death….

But as the common proverb in Gotterdammerung goes; the shadows consume all without distinction.











For those of you who have been playing pen and paper RPG's for a while may notice that some of my inspiration for Gotterdammerung has come from a very old RPG done by West End Games called Bloodshadows. I didn't want to make a carbon copy of Mordheim, but rather something equally bleak yet with a little more frenzied life in it.

Recently, whilst browsing through my local charity bookshop, I found a simply delicious artbook for a 2015 Playstation game called Bloodborne (at a very cheap price) which instantly got the imagination ablaze. The pictures I've included here are ones I've managed to find from the internet, but I do urge you to look for the book yourself; its full of rich concept work - perfectly fertile ground for conversions.


Gotterdammerung is pretty much still in draft right now, but please let me know what you think.
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Friday, 11 August 2017

Mor Deythan


Upon blackened pinions
silence takes flight
unkindness

sombre be their disposition
taciturn
disdainful

Lightless eyes of ink
ever watchful
ever patient

Carrion stink
the only betrayal
too late

Darkness shifts and strikes
melancholic
swift

Bleak be that beak
that tears
whet with retribution

Talons flash
in shadows
they rip out the heart

Desolate wake, inconsolable
corpses and black blood
in moonlight

Carrion stink
on the wind
the only thing left behind




 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Grime Lights - A Prequel

Some time ago (this time last year as it happens), I titillated audiences with a tiny teasing of world building.....

Well, okay, I faffed about with some background ideas (see: Ordo Nemuritorus) that never truly came to fruition and no one really noticed....

Since then I made up this little warband of 'less martial' figures who then sat on the top of my bureau to gather dust and cobwebs (literally), whilst I worked on other projects (my Elven Exiles are growing apace).


I've always been meaning to properly build up the world of Pūrvachāti much in the same way as I did with Lychgate last year. In fact, the roots of Pūrvachāti started out quite a few years ago, beginning with my love of the ancient ruins of India and Thailand and their contrast with the more contemporary structures seen in the countries' today.

Originally, I intended to paint these guys in very subdued colours in a similar palette to the Dutch Masters. However, now I'm more leaning towards something more impressionistic, something of a grubby riot of colours.

Anyway, until then....



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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Ode to Guilliman

So, I've been reconnecting with some albums that I haven't listened to in while and one of them is rather a favourite of mine. A collaboration by some of the most prominent synthpop/futurepop artists in the circuit currently who called themselves 'Bruderschaft' (Brotherhood) under the direction of Rexx Arkana. It was originally conceived as a charity project for cancer research in the wake of Arkana's father's death after battling the disease.

In 2013, they released a second album (Return) along with a remix of their pinnacle track 'Forever' (in what I believe is a definitive edition - but with Tom Shear spearheading the lyrics, I am grossly biased). It is the lyrics that I feel have a rather eerie message within the 40k universe, especially with the birth of this new Dark Imperium.


But I shall let you judge. 

I don't believe in the existence
Of mercy's guiding hand
Not with all that I have witnessed
I cannot understand
Forever burdened with the knowledge
That I could have been so much more
When the truth is hard to suffer
I knew this all before

There is no comfort in faith
The Heavens still will fall
A thousand towers rise before me
And I cannot climb them all
There is no kind of joy in this
There is no time that it can heal
When emptiness and shadows bliss
There is nothing left to feel

I have not abandoned hope
Though I know there's nothing more
Tired and alone
You forget what you have hoped for


I will walk this ground forever
And stand guard against your name
I will give all that I can offer
I will shoulder all the blame
I am sentry to you now
All your hopes and all your dreams
I will hold you to the light
That's what forever means

I was never what you wanted
I could never, never please
I swallowed all our sorrow
In the midst of my disease
All my fortunes, all my gains
All the battles I have won
Now collapsing like the rain
I stand alone your only son

Take solace in these words
Take notice of this place
Hollow whispers that they are
Like the wind upon my face
Sing softly in my ear
And look at me with wonder
I will try to ease your fear
As the darkness pulls you under

I will walk this ground forever
And stand guard against your name
I will give all that I can offer
I will shoulder all the blame
I am sentry to you now
All your hopes and all your dreams
I will hold you to the light
That's what forever means


The track can be heard here:


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