+ inload: The Agrellan campaign; Ultramarines during the Nova Terra Interregnum +

+ The Agrellan campaign +


+ Warfare on a very different scale today. I dug out my Epic Ultramarines and took them into the pict-booths to help illustrate the Agrellan Campaign. +

+++

+ The Ultramarines during the Nova Terra Interregnum + 

Five Millennia of warfare had seen the Ultramarines maintaining their tradition of benevolent tyranny over the Ultramar region. Their close adherence to their Primarch's Codex Astartes waned to a low under the auspices of Master Maxellus, with the Chapter Master encouraging personal initiative; a desire to emulate the great Primarch's initiative rather than follow his dictates by rote. This attitude was to set the terms for the Ultramarines for the centuries leading into the events of the Nova Terra Interregnum, and while it resulted in some of the greatest victories a Chapter had ever won; it also led to some of the Ultramarines' most bloody and infamous defeats.

The outbreak of the Nova Terra Interegnum saw the Ultramarines recovering from a series of thankless and punishing wars with ork warbands of the Lion Star Cluster and the Inheritors of Orison; a xenos-influenced cult of multi-limbed hybrid organisms. This culminated in the infamous void battle that saw the Battlebarge Endless Duty boarded and scuttled by the Inheritors, resulting in the loss of a number of their highest-ranking officers, including the Chapter Master, Master of Sanctity and Chief Librarian Nastase.

Understrength and demoralised, the Ultramarines entered M35 politically isolated, their influence on their Successors largely squandered, and sorely in need of inspiration. The newly-appointed Chapter Master Ollonius embarked on an aggressive recruitment drive, and seized on the Codex Astartes as his symbol. As a result, as the events of the Nova Terra Interregnum unfolded, the Ultramarines were operating at their most martially pragmatic – encouraging casualty minimisation, withdrawal and redeployment over the individual but costly heroics of the previous centuries.

The outbreak of the Nova Terra Interregnum was met by a stony-faced Ollonius. Caught between a personal desire to interfere in distant galactic events and stand by his appointed duty to Ultramar, his political philosophies left him only one route: that of local warden. It was a bitter pill for the revolutionary Chapter Master, whose desire to re-introduce the flexibility of the Codex Astartes to the Ultramarines left him and his storied Chapter sidelined for much of the period.

+++

+ Fifth Company during the Agrellan Conflict +

As the Chapter rebuilt, the Ultramarines were restricted to garrisoning the Ultramar region itself; humiliatingly being forced to rely on their brother Chapters to patrol and fulfil oaths of service as ancient as the Imperium itself.

Following three decades of accelerated recruitment and deliberately defensive warfare, the Ultramarines were finally able to shoulder their duties once more, and begin the long road of building back their standing amongst their Astartes' peers. Chapter Master Ollonius knew the value of morale, and was glad to be able to commit two crusading Companies to the Alien Wars. Their first challenge was on Agrellan; an agri-world that had been invaded by orks.


+ Captain Vangral Callistes, accompanied by a command squad of veterans (white helms, centre), leads the Company's six Tactical Squads into battle. Carrying a variety of small arms and transported by dedicated Deimos-pattern Rhinos, these Tactical detachments are at the heart of battle. A Hunter anti-aircraft vehicle has been deployed alongside for defensive purposes. +

+ The units bear Codex-standard variant Tactical markings; a clear indication of the 'back-to-basics' philosophy of their survival-minded Chapter Master. +


+ The remainder of the transport pool. Sufficient Rhinos are available for all the Company's Tactical units, as well as the attached scout units shown here. During the Nova Terra Interregnum, the Ultramarines used a huge variety of field markings; varying not just from Company to Company, but from engagement to engagement. While never confirmed, rumours swirled that the practice was deliberately evasive; allowing the Ultramarines to maintain plausible deniability when involving themselves in border disputes between those loyal to Nova Terra and Ancient Terra. +


+ The Company's two assault squads are led into battle by the Company Chaplain (second squad from left), an Office that had become both hugely influential and starkly changed during the period. While the Chapter was experiencing a renewed interest in the secular practicalities of the Codex Astartes, the recruitment drive had simultaneously brought in a massive proportion of Initiates and Reservists who had been brought up in the increasingly religious atmosphere of the time. +

+ Many Ultramarines felt lost, humiliated or aggrieved by their forced indolence during the period, and turned to the Chapter Cult for spiritual guidance. Their preconceptions of a deified Emperor, in concert with a conciliatory chaplaincy aimed at preserving order, meant that many Ultramarines became fervently and openly religious. +


+ The company's Fire Support: A Whirlwind detachment supported by a the Company's Devastator complement – itself reinforced by a Dreadnought, Hunter and Rhino Transports. +


+ The Chapter armoury had not spent the decades idle. With a reduced amount of repair and maintenance necessary, the Forgelord and his Techmarines had been able to requisition and reconstruct a number of new armoured vehicles, including the Vindicator squadron above. +


+ During the Agrellan Campaign, it was common for the Ultramarines to make the most of their large vehicle pool and deploy Predator tanks en masse in dedicated Armoured Companies. +


+ With few separate Companies committed to different warzones, the Chapter's vehicle pool also allowed the massed use of Land Raiders; something unthinkable in preceding centuries. Such focussed power proved to be critical at numerous points in the Agrellan Campaign. +

+++

+ AGRELLAN 222.M35 +
+ Legio Praesagius walks, supported by local Guard regiments +



+ inload: Legio Praesagius; the True Messengers +

+ inload: True Messengers +


+ The Legio Praesagius, or the True Messengers, are how I've decided to paint my Titans for the upcoming release of Adeptus Titanicus (2018). It's a blue and white scheme, so I started out with a coat of grey primer before spraying them black. I then worked over the whole model with the same approach to metal as I use for my Iron Warriors of the Footsore 242nd [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], before starting the white in the same way as I painted my lone White Scar marine [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. As you can see above, I haven't got particularly far, but every journey starts with a single step. +

+ Giant robot fighting is a classic sci-fi trope, and I'm really looking forward to getting them on the table to duel with the rest of the PCRC:

  • Omricon is building the Fire Masters of Legio Suturvora (Infernus)
  • Lucifer216 is bringing his Legio Kerberos to the table
  • Bob Hunk will be commanding the Tiger Eyes of Legio Fureans
  • Lord Blood the Hungry and Stuntwedge have also expressed an interest.
+ I was toying with developing my own Titan Legion – the Sons of the Temple (Legio Sumer) or the Kings in Yellow (Legio Validus), but the opportunity to re-play the events of Calth was too great a temptation. However, since Adeptus Titanicus is going to require a big buy-in, I'm going to keep a couple of my existing Titans in another scheme; meaning that I'll be able to supply all the models for a small test game for the rest of the gang, to see whether they want to buy in. +

+++

+ Gaming with Titans +

+ The first and most obvious way that these Titans will see action is in Adeptus Titanicus. I've got a couple of months to get them painted while enthusiasm is high! +

+ Long-time inloaders will know that Epic: Armageddon is my favourite game, and although the use of Titans isn't particularly involved in that game (their use is even simpler than Epic: 40,000), I'd still love to get some more Epic in and use my Titans there. That's part of the reason to build the True Messengers – background-wise, they complement my Ultramarines, who definitely deserve a bit more time in the sun. +
  
My Epic-scale Ultramarines, who it turns out haven't been photographed with their bases finished!
+ The nature of Titan Legions means that it's perfectly likely that individual Titans might survive from the Horus Heresy through to the 'modern day' of M41, which means they can also pop up in the Alien Wars – perfect! +


+ inload: Anatomy of Empire III: Stygies VII [Guestpost by DC147] +

+ Anatomy of Empire III: Stygies VII +

+ Another guestpostinload today, courtesy of the prodigiously talented DeathCat147. Check out One Four Seven Miniature Painting and Terrain on Facebook here [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] for some genuinely inspirational conversions and paintjobs. +

+ DC147 has breathed life into a world that really brings out the shades of grey available to gamers, hobbyists and writers involved in the Alien Wars. If you've ever needed an excuse for Imperial on Imperial gaming, why not give the Nova Terra Interregnum a try? +

+ As usual with a guestpostinload, the models and background below are the owners; and the text edited by myself for consistency within the Alien Wars setting: all typos and errors are mine alone! +

+++


Trying to discern the the motives and goals of a Stygian Priest is, by and large, an exercise in futility and madness. Only those with a discerning eye for the truth may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of their agenda – and even then, you should question closely what you saw.

Extract from All Human History – Inquisitrix Barbari Kills, Ordo Xenos

+++

+ Abstract +

Located at the confluence of Segmentum Solar and Segmentum Pacificus, Stygies VII – poetically referred to as The Ever-Staring Cyclops – was a battleground of ideas, philosophies and influences during the Nova Terra Interregnum. Although recorded as schismatic; this was mainly owing to Martian prejudice: the Forgeworld has a reputation eternally marred by ancient deeds; and its denizens are held in great suspicion because of it. 

In practical terms, Stygies VII was part of the Neomechanicus – that group of forgeworlds which lay in Nova Terran space, and were nominally loyal to Mars while continuing to supply local worlds. Owing to its astrographical positions between Segmenta, this meant that its priesthood occupied a position of supplying both belligerents; essentially remaining politically neutral. 

Its religious standing was no less murky. With the radically schismatic forgeworld of Moirae nearby, many of Stygies' techpriests were influenced by the revolutionary predictions of the Moirae cult; though just as many rejected its doctrines violently – including the famed Barbas Vholk.

Vholk serves as an exemplary member of the famously secretive and insular priests of Stygies, who were famed for secretly followed their own paths; some loyal to Mars and Terra, others looking to extend their influence with the Ur-Council or beyond. During the Nova Terra Interregnum, the world became a mass of competing theologies, black-market smuggling and clandestine parleys between influential groups.

+ The Shadow of Moirae +

Even amongst the normally secretive scions of the Omnissiah, the Magi of the Stygian Priesthood obsessively shroud their activities and agendas from the prying eyes of outsiders, using whatever means at their disposal. The events of the Nova Terra Interregnum only helped to drive individual Stygian Priests to still more extreme efforts to cloak their world from the rest of the fractured Imperium. Only the most necessary tasks and contracts were fulfilled, thoughts of new grand expeditions were banished, and lofty studies suspended. Productivity almost ground to a stop and military actions beyond their world were minimal, as the shroud of secrecy intensified.

Stygies had long been both politically and religiously complex and fractious, with different ideologies and the ambitions of various Magi creating a perfect environment for labyrinthine plots and shadow wars. Despite that, there was a vague equilibrium. That was until cults and notable magi following the nascent Moirae creed – a millennial cult which believed hidden messages in the Astronomicon prophesised, amongst other things, the fall of Mars – started openly extolling their beliefs and exerting power. The Moirae following split apart numerous alliances, fraternities and pacts, destabilising the balance on Stygies and creating a great deal of concern and paranoia for the more orthodox members of the Stygian Priesthood; along with those that wished their less orthodox methods to remain out of sight. Strange new pacts and political alliances were forged in the shadowy corners of the planet as former rivals put aside their differences to rid themselves of the heterodoxical Moirae cultists.

The shadow war on Stygies ramped up over the coming centuries, with the opponents of the Moirae followers seeking to purge their heretek code from their world, lest it draw deeper scrutiny from the Ordo Machinum and other Imperial agencies. The Moirae Purge continued right up until the turn of M36. Unfortunately for the remaining Stygian Priests, the wall of secrecy they threw up to avoid scrutiny drew the attention that they so desperately wished to avoid. Their actions would have bloody consequences not long after, and would only deepen the mistrust of their world within the greater Imperium...

+++

+ Principal holdings +



Stygies VIII is located on the seventh and largest moon orbiting a gas giant in the Vulcanis System, on the edge of the Segmentum Pacificus’ border with the Segmentum Solar and close to the Segmentum Obscurus. A strategic point in a vast web of trade and supply routes that cover the confluence of the three segmentae, Stygies is well placed to feed its voracious appetite for materials and to distribute the fruits of its labours to where they are needed. A constant stream of raw and processed goods pour into the vast orbital docks and tethers that service Stygies, ancient contracts from nearby Imperial Worlds and tithes from vassal worlds fulfilled with minerals, ores, and fresh flesh ready for mind wiping. Mining worlds such as Rast and Varana, along with asteroid mining across many systems supply the vast amount of Stygies needs. For its supply of potential servitors, Stygies relies primarily on a number of nearby hive worlds supplying them with criminals and other malcontents for mind wiping and conversion, along with vat grown biological forms. Stygies' other significant asset is a sizable and highly secretive network of informants and agents supplying them with data and leads to potential sites of interest throughout the Imperium. 

+++

+ Principal military forces +

Stygian Skitarii Praeventore
Militarily, Stygies conforms to the same broad structure as other forgeworlds, using the macroclade system to organise its Skitarii Legions. The only marked difference is a slightly higher number of Skitarii Sagitarii units in the field, often equipped with tracked Light Conveyor Units equipped with a plethora of long-range support weaponry. These units are typically attached to a Praeventore squad along with a small unit of Velites as part of a mutually supportive unit capable of adapting to a variety of threats. 

The Velites range ahead of the Praeventores, scouting out their path as well as identifying and nullifying anything that may stall an advance. Should they encounter a heavy obstacle, such as a defensive position or armoured asset, the Sagitarii are brought to a forward position to clear away the threat with their prodigious firepower. The Praeventores can then begin sweeping away lower level threats with their rad carbines, plasma calivers, and arc rifles. 

This formation lies at the heart of a Stygies Battle Maniple, usually structured around twelve of these units – twelve being viewed as the Omnissiah's sacred number by the Priesthood of Stygies VII– along with the usual Onagers, Dragoons, Ironstriders, Infiltrators and Rustwalkers supporting. Dependent on operational needs, such a formation may be assigned a Skitarii Alpha Primus to coordinate and command in lieu of direct commands from the magos leading the force or one of his techpriest subordinates.

Stygian Skitarii Velite

Alongside the Legion Maniples march a veritable horde of servitor variants, from the Machai Pattern Breacher Servitor, Mors Murder Servitor, Thrax Pattern Combat Servitor, all the way down to the lowly Monotask Servitors. The servitors present in a force depends on the Magos and their personal preferences. The servitors that are part of a Magos rentinue as bodyguards or servants are often outfitted with all sorts of esoteric accoutrements, often a reflection of their owners field of study and their craft.

The most notable force available to the Magos of Stygies VII when fighting abroad are the Titans of the Legio Honorum “The Deathbolts”. During the Moirae Purge the Legio Honorum were mostly left to their own devices, only mobilising for campaigns offworld when there was significant evidence that their god machines' firepower would be instrumental to the battles ahead. Because of this stance, the Legio Honorum left the soil of Stygies on only a handful of occasions during the 35th millennium.

Praeventores attempt to repel an ork attack upon promethium refinery Beta-Chi 32 during the fighting on Uralon.


+ Notable personnel +

Magos Barbas Vholk, orthodox member of the Stygian Priesthood.
Pict-Capture taken: 236.M35

+ Magos Barbas Vholk +

Fully initiated into the Stygian priesthood in the mid 32nd millennia, Barbas Vholk spent two and a half millennia diligently – many would say obsessively – working on a variety of projects and numerous expeditions. His efforts garnered many accolades and a sizeable amount of influence amongst the hierarchy of the Stygian priesthood, and yet he showed little concern for the accolades and only used his influence sparingly to secure resources and materials for his works.

Even by Mechanicus standards, Vholk is aloof and calculatedly logical, unwavering in his resolve, and considered by many to be misanthropic and cynical. With such a divisive personality it’s unsurprising that it has lead to many strained and fractious relationships amongst his peers. However, his work and it’s results have secured many a like-minded priest to join him, seek his tutelage, or align themselves with him politically.

In mid-M34, Vholk secured in perpetuity the cruiser Caminus Aeternum and its attendant vessels for his latest undertaking, thanks to his supporters and, rather surprisingly, his detractors and rivals. The details of his expedition and it’s goals were rather undefined, only that it would be long-term and would ultimately be for the greater glory of Stygies and the Imperium at large. His opponents threw their support behind Vholk, hoping that at minimum he would spend decades away from Stygies on a ludicrous personal quest, and at best, that some galactic horror might rid them of him during a foray on some backwater planet.

Unfortunately for them, Vholk persisted and thrived. Caminus Aeternum regularly returned to berth in Stygies docks over the years, bearing materials, artifacts and code fragments for analysis and cogitation. Vholk whisks the prize pieces away to his personal facilities for him to pore over in detail. While Caminus Aeternum is well equipped for such activities, it pales in comparison to resources available in his planetside facility. He has often spent decades locked away with his latest baubles and data, only engaging with the forge at large when it suits him, and then frenziedly gathering up his followers, materials, and munitions onboard the Caminus Aeternum and disappearing into the void chasing his next whispered lead.


During the early years of the Nova Terra Interregnum and the rise of the Moirae cult, Vholk was on the far side of the Segmentum Pacificus, having led an expeditionary force to investigate ruins on Anostos IV. He and his expedition spent just over a century charting an erratic course home, beholden to the vagaries of the warp, whispers of ancient technology, and slowed by the machinations of madmen and the pleas of the damned. Once home, he set about securing his holdings and weeding out Moirae Cultists amongst them, identifying any cultists amongst his political allies and removing them from the equation. Such affronts to the Omnissiah would never be allowed to take seed amongst his followers or students, and he would certainly not suffer any of his allies that had fallen to the heretek beliefs. 

Once his own purge had been completed, he isolated his facilities and locked them down so no one could corrupt his works, Any Moirae followers attempting to breach his facilities were to be eliminated with extreme force by the combat servitors and their attendant priests. He organised kill teams to hunt known Moirae followers, occasionally unleashing assassins to eliminate particularly stubborn Magi. 

Vholk’s pragmatism, his Machiavellian schemes, and the brutality of his actions only added to his divisive reputation, once again garnering more critics and earning new like-minded allies. Though Vholk’s actions were small in comparison to the whole story of Stygies VII at this time, they helped secure his realm of influence during this period and showed him to be a loyal servant of Mars and the Imperium. His actions benefited him greatly when greater scrutiny fell upon Stygies in the early years of the 36th millennia.


+++

+ Major conflicts during the Nova Terra Interregnum +

Stygies VII Skitarii engaging Orks of the Serpent's Eye Nebula during the early stages of the Uralon Campaign
  • Moirae Purges [154.M35–982.M35]
  • Xang-Zao Belt War [287.M35–293.M35] Asteroid mining clans in the Xang-Zao system refuse to send contractual tithes to Stygies and choose independent self governance, throwing off the yoke of Imperial rule. They also rebuff representatives of the Ur-Council in a bold but foolish move. Three separate forces: a Terran Imperial task force, an Ur-Separatist force, and a reclamation force from Stygies each converge on the Xang-Zao system. The Terran and Ur-Separatists each seek to secure the system for their respective leaders. The Stygian forces remain aloof and neutral, working to their own agenda. While the Xang-Zao Clans, the Terrans and the Ur-Separatists engage in a long costly war over a six year period, the Stygian forces slowly secure key processing and mining facilities along with the primary transfer docks. Eventually the rebel clans are eliminated, the Terran and Ur-Separatist forces end up with a bloody stalemate and leave the system to lick their wounds. The Stygian Priesthood become powerbrokers in the system and reorganise the remaining clans, assigning seized assets and creating stronger ties between them and Stygies. Just after the war, the clans discover one of the largest mineral rich asteroids has been cracked in two revealing a vast void and a series of carved tunnels in its interior. No explanation is forthcoming from Stygies, but the clans are quickly distracted by the the easy access to the vast untouched mineral deposits within. 
  • The Uralon Scourging [442.M35]  An ork expeditionary force led by Arch-Krumper Ghaznob Wurrgob captures the mining world of Uralon. Attempts to retake the world by forces from Stygies and supporting Nova Terran Army regiments prove futile due to the size of the ork horde planetside, and the vast network of mining tunnels they have occupied. Magos Gharrus Skorn decides to cut his losses and orders the remaining ork void ships to be hunted down and the remains used to bombard the planet, along with all the ordnance the Imperial ships can dispense. After a month-long bombardment the surface of Uralon is turned into a hellscape of blasted rock, magma flows and ash laden superstorms. The dense poisonous particulates in the atmosphere cover the planet in perpetual darkness for centuries to come.
  • The Galatex Extraction [714.M35] [+REDACTED auth: Unfortunus Veck+]
+++

+ Post Script +


Thought for the day: It is not in my mind to ask questions that cannot be answered. That is the soul standing upon the crossroad of vacillation. You search for wisdom, but achieve only a stasis of will.

The Stygian Priesthood stand as an excellent example of the multi-faceted nature of the Nova Terra Interregnum: it is not enough simply to label an system as loyal or secessionist; any more than a man may be stamped indelibly good or evil. All amongst the Inquisition must recognise this. Just as the human soul admits merely of degrees of guilt; so with the loyalty of a system, we must remember that heresy takes root in even the most well-tended soil. 


I remain, at your service; Inquisitrix Barbari Kills.

+inload: Adeptus Titanicus +

+ inload: March of the God-Engines +


The sullen flames whipped in the draught, flicking back the shadows in the corners of the temple. Silhouetted against the low red sun, the faithful staggered up the steps, sweating to draw the protesting aurochs toward the altar. Eyes rolling, sweat pouring from its flanks, it struggled. White froth flicked from the beasts' mouth, and the assembled Techpriests nodded. A good omen. 

The great brass doors sealed once more, the canticles intoned, the aurochs was forced to kneel on the heavy mesh. Beneath it, the somnolent ironform of a War Engine; as yet unnamed, as yet an empty vessel. In blood and fire it would be born; in blood and fire it would serve.

+++

+ As you can probably guess, I'm very excited about the imminent launch of Adeptus Titanicus, which news of which has been disseminating through the noosphere since Warhammerfest lest weekend. I've had an Epic-scale Warlord lurking, waiting to be built for quite a while. Last night I took the plunge and got it built, and I am very glad I have! It's an immense figure (well, in terms of the Epic: Armageddon game, at least), and if my guess on the vase size of the official models is correct, it's similar in size and bulk. +

+ TO be clear; third-party figures are obviously a contentious point. Suffice to say, I hope, that owning this figure isn't putting me off getting some new ones from GW! I'm firmly intending to vote with my wallet and support GW's relaunch, as I really like what the company's doing these days. This big metal beast will serve as a relic of a darker age, when the Epic scale had no official support, and relied on garage companies of enthusiasts, whose love for the games and universes kept things going. +

+ What Legion? +

+ Regarding colour schemes, I'm torn. I like the concept of 'doing Calth', and painting him up in the Legio Praesagius scheme to accompany my Ultramarines. On the other hand, I've been doing lots of 'official' schemes recently, and do fancy developing my own home-brewed Legion. I'd appreciate any thoughts. +

+ If Adeptus Titanicus takes off in the PCRC – and I really hope it does – I hope to use my maniple in multiple time periods from the Great Crusade to modern 40k. The Nova Terra Interregnum (i.e. the Alien Wars setting) is also a prime fit for Titan-on-Titan combat, so they'll definitely be making an appearance there... +


+ Twin volcano cannons and bristling laser blasters from the front... +


+ ...And a cool little railing, protected by autocannons, from the rear. Very tempted to dig out some old Epic figures to stand there. +




 + All hail the God of Machines! If you do have any thoughts on colour schemes, or just want to froth about Titans, let me know below. +

+ inload: Blood Angels Primaris Captain +

+ Lord Dahavauron 9:91, Prince of the Erelim +

+ That is called Captain Erasmus Tycho, first of that name +


+ Some models have a smooth development; others less so. This is an example of the latter! Having built and assembled him, I stalled on how to approach the painting. After an abortive experiment with gilding – something I'd like to return to one day – he ended up in paintstripper, which rather took the gloss off my enthusiasm; particularly when some of the greenstuff details were damaged. +

Pre-painting. The brows have been softened to emulate the impassive
expression of the artwork.
+ After some repair work, I opted to try out non-metallic metal, or NMM, which was a fun experiment. Since I'd lost a bit of enthusiasm for the figure, I thought that NMM would either redeem or ruin him. The result is far from technically perfect, but I'm pretty happy with it, and regard the figure as a success now. Proof that it's worth trying something outside your comfort zone from time to time. +

+ The finished piece is based heavily on Dave Gallagher's iconic artwork [+vis-ref: right+], though I have made a couple of tweaks. These were both to tie him more closely to the Captain model used in the 1991 studio Blood Angels army, and to work better as a miniature within the force. + 

+ These included a gunmetal backpack and neutral cloak, which frame the figure better than the red pack and black-and-yellow striping of the original cape. I've also added a loincloth to match the classic Captain model. +



+ The figure's made up from a hotch-potch of parts. The legs, cape and halo are based on the Primaris Chaplain with sculpted detail. The torso is from one of the new Stormcast kits; the waist section based on a lump of Terminator shoulder pad that was then built up and detailed with greenstuff. The head's from the Raven Guard HH upgrade set, with breathing hoses and ear-pieces sculpted on to match the artwork and make it clear that it's an ornamental helm, rather than a head. The arms are Primaris Intercessor ones, I think. The shoulder pad icon was created from the Blood Angels upgrade sprue; I simply added an additional two blood drops to match the artwork. +

+ As you can see above, I broke the model up to prime it – in white, unusually for me. This was because NMM relies on getting a clean finish for an effective result; I didn't want to be fighting grey or black coming through the layers of yellow. +


+ The front view hopefully captures the classic image; but of course a miniature's got to work from multiple angles. +


+ The Captain from the 1991 army (called Tycho as he was later to become the inspiration for the later special character of the name – I'll avoid the Tycho reference to avoid confusion here) provided some useful ideas for parts not visible in the artwork, such as the shoulder pad here. I improvised the detail on the cloak; I didn't want it too complex or eye-catching as the gold is rather garish anyway. The cloak offered a good spot for contrast, so it's muted in tone. +


+ The loincloth – another detail from the model, rather than the artwork – bears the same diagonal red stripe on yellow field. It i just visible here. +


+ A shot from above +


+ ...and a low-angle one to finish off the painted miniature. +

+++



+ inload: Anatomy of the Enemy III: Eldar +

+ Anatomy of the enemy III: Eldar +


'Who seeks the Eldar, grasps at smoke.'
- Proverbs of Dontian -

+++

+ Abstract +

To speak of the 'Eldar' to xenoscholars is so broad a canvas as to be virtually meaningless , such is the breadth of an impossibly complex society of diverse natures and behaviours, united only by the common biology and the irredeemably corrupt and breathlessly arrogant nature of its members.

The records that the Inquisition holds of the species are simultaneously extensive, and oddly cursory; for the Eldar are an ancient and subtle species that is known to share only that which it desires of its aeons-old culture. What little sure knowledge we have of them has been wrested from the fey creatures through honest warfare, righteous torture and Inquisitorial subterfuge. Nevertheless, the diversity and elusiveness of the creatures, coupled with their rarity, means that this missive can deal with only the broadest strokes.

In reading of them, be aware that never is all as it seems. Their mythology and history are deeply intertwined; and arguably synonymous to an Eldar.

+ Eldar biology +

Typical eldar warrior, Iyanden designate
As a rule, eldar are slight, willowy and gracile, but otherwise similar in silhouette to humanity, with the species sharing peculiarly similar limb structure, right down to the number of fingers and toes, and facial layout. Indeed, a number of less anthropomorphic species – such as the Chi-soma and multi-limbed Semb – are recorded to have mistaken human emissaries for Eldar.

To a human, however, the differences are immediately obvious. There is an uncanny underlying 'otherness' to an encounter with the Eldar that cannot be accounted for by simple cultural difference, but is a result of their gossamer-subtle postural shifts that make up part of their physical communication, in combination with their heightened proprioception and reactions which gives them a superlatively graceful aspect.

Physically, almost all Eldar are relatively tall, though still within standard human variance. Lacking a subcutaneous fat analogue, they appear slender or even slightly avian. Gender dimorphism is not marked – male and female Eldar are distinguishable, but most are relatively androgynous. On an individual level, their sensory organs appear appealingly exaggerated: exhibiting large almond-shaped eyes, and elegantly structured ears and noses – they exude an aesthetic style which, on the surface, has an immediate appeal.

Group of eldar raiders, Eosshi designate [Model credit: Lord Blood the Hungry]
In groups, the impression is diminished. A permanent level of communion at the subconscious and psychic level means that groups of Eldar often react like a shoal or flock; mirroring each other's movements in an quite hypnotic cascade. The impression is that of a troupe of dancers or acrobats; poised and attuned, and it adds to their disconcerting presence. This is further heightened by their similarity.Beyond personal attire, clothing styles and body modification, Eldar exhibit little variety in their phenotype. Almost all are pale-skinned; and with faces that shriek of a shared heritage. Stripped of their equipment, it would be difficult to distinguish an Eldar from one culture to another.

+ Major cultural groups +

However physically similar at birth, the Eldar one may encounter during Inquisitorial duties – or that the forces of the twin Imperium may face – are not monocultural. Indeed, what they lack in phenotypical diversity is more than compensated for by the complexity of their preferred dress, equipment and behavioural mores.

Eldar fall into four main groups:

  • Nomadic world-ship dwellers – asuryani, or craftworld eldar
  • Those settled on feral worlds within the galaxy – asrai, or exodite eldar
  • The eldar of the worlds beyond the galactic rim – moirai, or halator eldar
  • Piratical and cabalistic raiders – drukhari, or corsair eldar
If the best-known of these, the nomads of the 'Craftworlds', is to be taken as typical, each of these broad group includes thousands of subcultures. This seems highly likely, as the diversity within the nomadic Eldar culture is vast, and they are known to be the most culturally intert; reactionary to any potential development and ritualised to the point of obsession.

Whisperprince of Ctho, one of the Eldar's worldships.
As discussed, all Eldar are physically similar, though many perform body modification – ranging from the application of ritual warpaint and tattoos, to full limb and organ replacement or addition – which may aid in identification. It is hard to make generalisations as to the reasons for such practises, but as a broad note, the nomadic Eldar seem to favour distinction through clothing and grooming (make-up and hairstyles, for example) and tend to restrict body modification to minor piercings. The pict-capture above shows a typical high-caste figure with a striking hairstyle, but no visible physical augmentation or alteration. Bionics are rare; usually temporary until a new limb can be grown and grafted. 

The dwindling inheritors – those claiming status as shards of their now-lost empire – are sometimes known as the halation or halator eldar, owing to their cosmographical restriction to the worlds beyond the galactic rim proper. Exhibiting little to no bodily modification, these scattered eldar are theorised to make a virtue of their physical form; seeming to regard themselves as sanctified vessels of their gods. 

The settled feral Eldar typically exhibit more variation than the nomadic and inheritor cultures. While some seem puritanical in their avoidance of body modification, others show more pronounced modifications, such as 'ear-webbing', tattoos and scarification. Their bionics and augmetics, while high-quality and gracile, are typically more obvious and more permanent than the nomadic Eldar.

Haemonculi of the Perfected Flesh cabal [Model credit: Lord Blood the Hungry]
The final major group is still more nebulous, its contact with the Imperium completely unformalised and usually highly hostile. Some appear similar to Craftworld eldar; but the group also includes the little-known drukhari sub-culture. It is unclear whether it is a small, isolated population of corsairs, similar to the infamous Eldritch Raiders, an extensive group similar or even larger in population than the nomadics, or something in between. 

Indeed, we are still unsure whether they are ship-based, settled or have some other form of permanent dwelling; and all attempts to divine their method of travel or settlement has proven impossible. Amongst the most abhorrent of this abominable species, they exhibit the most extreme body modification of all known Eldar. 

This can range from relatively banal tattooing and extensive piercing to organ replacement, induced adaptation of atavistic elements – the intentional development of the base of the Eldar's spine equivalent into a prehensile limb – or the the grafting of supernumerary limbs, as shown in the pict-capture here. This shows two haemonculi, a term that (typically for the eldar) has extensive nuance, but can bluntly be translated as 'pain-artist'.


+++

Eldar military equipment and technology +

Current intelligence indicates that the Eldar have degraded from a possible status as a post-scarcity civilisation during the Dark Age of Technology; and now require a limited range of raw materials – even where these may seem odd or worthless to an Imperial observer. Indeed, these theorised requirements are a possible reason for the nomadic wanderings of their 'Craftworlds', and apparent piratical nature.

It is documented that certain Eldar posses the wherewithal to manipulate the immaterium to produce durable 'psychoplastics' – that is, permanent physical objects created from the raw stuff of the warp – and this is likely where myths that their equipment is 'sung' into being have arisen. If this is possible on an industrial scale, it seems that it is not perfect; with recovered materials indicated that mundane (if exceptionally well-crafted) ceramics, metal ores, fabrics and other esoteric elements are routinely incorporated.

'Guardian' Auxiliary warriors; support militia of the nomadic craftworlds.
Scarcity or not, most Eldar encountered in the field are precociously well-equipped and supplied, with gleaming weaponry, field-dress and equipment. Favouring eye-catching ritualised wear that varies from group to group, an Eldar army is a panoply of colour and movement. Nomadic eldar favour shuriken weaponry, using it alongside las-weapons in roughly equal quantites.

In contrast, the moirai (Eldar of the Halo regions) wear richly-decorated armour styled after scale or chain mail, though constructed from advanced plastek-equivalents. Their Exigator and Protector troupes are often adorned with ritual warpaint – usually in earthy or pastel shades such as terracottas, or light blues. Unlike their Craftworld brethren, the field officers (Malefactors and Probati) wear similar markings and equipment, though usually more richly developed; as do their shrine-warriors such as the feared Striking Serpents and Crystal Dragons.

Their technology is also extended to the zhote auxiliaries which seem to make up as much as half of their military forces, though whether these are allies or slaves or is a matter of much debate amongst xenologicians.

Perfected Flesh clone-slaves [Model credit: Lord Blood the Hungry]
The clone-slaves of eldar pirates – vulgarly known as wracks to the men and women of Guardsman – use relatively crude weapons; though whether this is for ritualistic reasons, a lack of availability, or the warriors' general inability or unwillingness to use more sophisticated tools is unknown. As the central figure here shows, some specimens are clearly able to use ranged weaponry.

Line troops of the Exquisite Tear cabal [Model credit: Lord Blood the Hungry].
Many settled and piratical Eldar, such as those shown, wear enclosed armour and wield weaponry of high sophistication that is distinct in pattern, use, efficacy and even material from that typically used by the nomadic forms. The pictured warriors wield a variety of rifle-equivalent and support weapons that utilise a hybrid laser/crystal technology to deliver splinters of nerve agents and paralysing toxins.

Halator psyker. Unknown designation

Note must be made here of the Eldar's extensive psychic weaponry and wargear. All eldar are to an extent psychic, and their modus operandi reflects this. All groups of Eldar use psychic weaponry extensively, with the seeming exception of certain piratical raiders. The Eldar of the Halo region also exhibit restricted usage in comparison with other Eldar factions. Nevertheless, their Impressors and Void-Dreamers specialist in battlefield psychic support; shielding and shrouding their allies.

Eldar jetbike – [James Turner The Pig's Sty]
Where generalisations can be made, Eldar favour harrying hit-and-run attacks, or, when deployed on a larger scale,  a blitzkrieg style of warfare. Both approaches look to make the most of their relatively small numbers, and allows for rapid redeployment. Most Eldar vehicles are grav-based, allowing them excellent mobility and infamous 'pop-up' attacks from cover.

Jetbikes are a military technology becoming scarcer across the twin Imperium, following the destruction or secession of a number of principal Forge Worlds on both sides of the Nova Terran Interregnum, but are in evidence in the military forces of most Eldar groups, fitting the modus operandi of these xenos to a tee.

Eldar 'Wave Serpent' grav-tank; Eldritch Raiders [Model credit: Keith Stine]

Perhaps the most famous Eldar forces are the elites used by the craftworlds and halator, known as 'Aspect Warriors'. Seeming to embody particular religious and martial traits of the Eldar's lost empire, seventeen types or subtypes have been identified. Of these, only thirteen have been recorded in the Craftworld forces; the remainder exclusive to the halatar. In order of prominence, these are:
Possible Mist Blade Aspect Warrior
[model credit: James Turner The Pig's Sty]

  • Dire Avengers – adaptable generalists
  • Howling Banshees – shock-assault specialists
  • Avenging Warriors* – adaptable generalists
  • Striking Scorpions – close-assault specialists
  • Crystal Dragons – close-support specialists
  • Shadow Spectres – long-range fire-support specialists
  • Ebon Talons – long-range fire-support specialists
  • Striking Serpents* – close-support specialists
  • Dark Reapers – long-range fire-support specialists
  • Shining Spears – close-assault/support specialists
  • Warp Spiders – close-support specialists
  • Crimson Hunters – aerial specialists
  • Fire Dragons – close-support specialists
  • Night Striders* –  adaptable generalists
  • Mist Blades – void-assault specialists
  • Slicing Orbs† – close-support specialists
  • Cresting Steeds* – aquatic specialists
Entries marked with an * have been recorded only in forces of the Eldar of the galactic halo. Those marked with an † have been recorded only on unsubstantiated or secondary evidence.

+++

+ Principal Eldar military forces and domains+

This list is necessarily curtailed; and aims to encompasses only those factions of particular note or precocious activity during the Nova Terra Interregnum.


+ Asuryani (Nomadic Eldar) +

The most commonly-encountered (though this is a relative term) Eldar subtype, the nomadic Craftworlds are mobile, allowing their inhabitants to avoid or incite conflict.

  • Alaitoc – Perhaps the best-known Eldar Craftworld, the Alaitoc Craftworld has enjoyed a century-long – if occasionally uneasy – non-aggression pact with Ancient Terra, and has served alongside Imperial forces in two notable campaigns against the orks of Charadon, and Krell.
  • Zandros – Seemingly derelict, this Craftworld proved to be fully operational when targetted by Nova Terran forces. 
  • Ythranmir – Seemingly limited Aspect shrines; either a cultural artefact or population quirk. Instead deploys extensive Guardian militia forces.
  • Ctho – Unusual for their restricted deployment of Aspect Warriors, and preferring the use of the Fire Dragons shrine over the more common Crystal Dragons.
  • Biel Tan Hostile and dangerous, Biel Tan currently resides in the northern reaches of Segmentum Solar, launching continuous attacks on Imperial interests in the Fossax and Gloriam Sectors. Rarely deploying their 'Guardian' auxilia, their forces make extensive use of the thirteen identified specialist 'aspect warrior' shrines.
  • Siaob – Resurgent and mobile, the Eldar of Siaob treat freely with representatives of both the Ur-Council and High Lords in search of artefacts of Eldar antiquity. The high domes are home to hundreds of ranger, outcast and pirate bands.
  • Lugganath – Known to be recovering from Archenemy Legio III attack.
  • Dain Mir – Sustained heavy damage in conflict with the Red Templars in the First War of Trimundi, early in the Nova Terran Interregnum.
  • Iyanden – Believed to be the largest and most populous Craftworld, Iyanden specialises in conventional mass assault, spearheaded by Aspect Warriors. The Battle of Gnosos was notable for the first recorded deployment of all thirteen Aspects.

+ Asrai (Exodite Eldar) +

Isolated and protected by astrographical distance from ready warp routes, the Maiden Worlds of the Exodites are typically difficult to reach. Their inhabitants are also fierce and capable defenders, so they are, by and large, left alone by all but the most determined (or foolish) enemies.

  • Tost – Implicated by Chapter Master Mabaloso of the Novamarines in the Pale Wasting. Further records [REDACTED]
  • Firduos – Purported resting place of the long-lost folk hero 'Fuegan', not seen for several millennia.
  • Asiurmo 
  • Ys – Fell into conflict with the orks of Ghur.
  • Sien Ghou
  • Bhodran – Enjoyed limited trade with nearby Knight households indebted to Terra, until drawn into the broader Reaches War.
  • Lomoni
  • Orie Zi – A beautiful pink-tinged coral desert, the Eldar of the Orie Zi Maiden World inhabit the turquoise liminal areas of this paradise world. They engaged and defeated an invasion headed by the Sons of Medusa.

+ Moirai (Halator Eldar) +

Seemingly restricted to extra-galactic regions, these fading but still powerful forces 

  • Comh Aontu – The Titan Clans of this region were drawn into a protacted engagement with the Legio Comitant of Avignor, resulting in the decimation of the Nova Terran-aligned forces and Eldar alike. Reduction in activity may be an indication of the Eldar's inability to maintain such high-value conflict.
  • Sliabh-Caillt – Harried Ancient Imperial shipping until the League of Grendel engaged and destroyed a number of Outrider vessels.
  • Alai-Myan Alliance – 
  • At-Arradh – Involved in an ongoing war of mutual extermination with the Hrud of the region.
  • Demi-Nui – Defeated the extra-galactic Explorator fleets of the Adeptus Mechanicus Maior, at terrible cost to both Demi-Nui and the Forgeworld of Telerac. Magos Viljitch's full record of the conflict can be inloaded.
  • Fir Geach – Reduced to a handful of artefact worlds in the wake of Waa-Kurgoff.

+ Drukhari (Corsair Eldar) +

Void Watcher; Eldar psyker of the Eldritch Raiders
 [Model credit: Keith Stine]
In addition to those principal forces listed above are tens of thousands of recorded raids that match Eldar descriptions, with no identified attacker. It is likely that such Eldar raiders make up ninety per cent or more of the scant contact humanity has with this ancient and powerful enemy. Such is the scant evidence left by such raiders that information is near-impossible to come by. The following seem to be particular famous pirate raiders, though even this is far from certain. These groups may be as different from one another as any typical Imperial culture is from another, using different weapons, star-craft and with different cultural traditions and taboos.


  • Company of Kaele Lightprow – Attacks by this force are frequently preceded by sonic barrage and accompanied by psychically unsettling aural weaponry.
  • Cabal of the Black Heart 
  • Eldritch Raiders
  • Cabal of the Perfected Flesh – A shadowy figure known as Grigori seems to have command of this terrifying force.
  • Scarlet Command – A yellow hand bearing an all-seeing eye is that symbol of this force.
  • Void Watchers 
  • Eosshi Cabal
  • Crangor's Buccaneers – Unusual in that this is a human/squat military force that permanently employ Eldar; seemingly renegades from an Eldar civil war.

+++

+ Major Eldar conflicts during the Nova Terra Interregnum +

  • First War of Trimundi: Belligerent Eldar of Dain Mir attack Trimundi. They are met by forces of the Nova Terran Army and the Red Templars first company. The result is a bloody stalemate, and the Dain Mir eventually retreat.
  • War of Lost Sorrow
Kalamonan Guardsman confronts an Iybraesil Aspect Warrior [Credit: Stuart Benson]
  • Kalamonon War
  • Zandros Annexation: Expeditionary forces of Nova Terra attempt to board the Craftworld Zandros, goaded by the Magi of the Moirae Schismatics. They are met by stinging defences and forced to retreat. Zandros later launches an assault of Stygies in retaliation, wrecking supply lines for both Terra and Nova Terra.
  • War of Stein's Beard: The League of Mjolnir and the Eldar of Fir Geach begin a proxy war of escalation that badly depletes both sides allies until the belligerents meet on the fields of Tehu Principal.

Iyanden Eldar defend against Sarharduin forces on the beaches of Ombai.
  • Battle of Sim: Silver Guard Astartes are devastated on Sim when attacked by Eldar corsairs.
  • War of Stein's Beard: The League of Mjolnir and the Eldar of Fir Geach begin a proxy war of escalation that badly depletes both sides allies until the belligerents meet on the fields of Tehu Principal.
The Iyanden Craftworld clash on Gant with the inhabitants

  • Death on Gant: An escalating battle with independent humans forces in the Gant system leads more orks to flock to the banner of Morskul. The Iyanden Craftworld deploy in support, leading to the extermination of nearly fifty thousand orks, over seven thousand eldar and sixty thousand humans.



  • Crow's World purges: Attacks by feral orks on Imperial cities were curtailed after Eldar of the Exquisite Tear launched a brutal four-day campaign.

Eldar attacking Crow's World bypassed Imperial forces to engage with feral orks. [Model credit: Lord Blood the Hungry]

+++

+ Post Script +

The eldar are as elusive as they are complex; of that one can be certain. While they are a beautiful enigma, one must remember the truism: an open mind is like a fortress with its gates unbarred and undefended. 

I remain, at your service; Inquisitrix Barbari Kills.