+ inload: Bearers of the Word +

+ View over the fence: musings on Word Bearers +

Loyalty is the child of belief.
+ Aphorisms, Urka Madis +


+ 'You're that Ultramarines guy, right?' – I've been flattered to have been called so, but I haven't painted one of my Praetors of Calth [+noosphericinloadlinkembedded+] in a long time. Still, I find Calth a very rich setting, so it's been nice to dig back into it, even if it's from the other side. +

+ In building up the background for my Ultramarines, it's been impossible not to read about their rivals – and bitter enemies, the Word Bearers. As with much of the Horus Heresy, their rich background is a tempting rabbit hole – though prior to now, I've largely resisted the temptation. +

+ The release of Primaris marines means that making a small group of marines, with sufficient bulk to look good against my Ultramarines, for the boardgame Betrayal at Calth has become a realistic prospect. Working on them has been a great lesson in different reds. +

+ Theoretical +

+ The human eye is very drawn to reds. Like its complementary colour(greens), we're very sensitive to slight changes in hue. Coupled with red paints typically having relatively poor coverage, the colour has a reputation for being difficult – both to paint, and to photograph. +

+ Bright red (left) and deep red (centre and right) schemes +

+ The Citadel Colours range has some really nice reds, and while they may take a couple of layers, you can work them right over a black undercoat. The marine on the left was painted with the following process over black:

_1 Mephiston Red.
_2 Second layer of Mephiston Red.
_3 Lining the recesses with Agrax Earthshade.
_4 Layer of Evil Sunz Scarlet.
_5 Highlights of Fire Dragon Bright.
_6 Winsor & Newton red ink glaze.

This gives a nice, vibrant result – brilliant for Blood Angels, but perhaps a bit vivid for the Word Bearers. The others were therefore painted with a more muted scheme, again over a black undercoat:

_1 Gal Vorbak Red.
_2 Second layer of Gal Vorbak Red.
_3 Lining the recesses with Leviathan Purple.
_4 Layer of Word Bearers Red
_5 Initial highlights of Word Bearers Red/Fire Dragon Bright mix.
_6 Secondary highlights of Fire Dragon Bright
_7 Winsor & Newton red ink glaze.

+ The result of the latter is more muted. To be honest, I don't like it quite as much as the Blood Angels scheme, but that's probably working as intended. The former bright red scheme is very warm-tinged – that is, it's based on yellow-biased reds, which means it appears warm, inviting and exciting. The latter muted red scheme is cool-tinged; based on blue-based reds. This means it is naturally less eye-catching. +

+ This may seem a Bad Thing, but sometimes subtlety wins out. By having a more muted wine-dark scheme, it leaves space in the palette for bright vibrant reds to be used for, say, braziers and flames. These wouldn't sing out against the bright red scheme, but should be set off nicely by the deep red. +

+ Practical +

+ So, how does it look in practice? I got two marines painted up over the course of the evening. Not quite finished – I have the Legion and Chapter symbols to add (once I've decided where they'll come from), and the bases need to be completed. At this stage, however, they're ready to view. +

+ To give the models some character, I've added freehand designs – these astrological/astronomical signs are really distinctive of the Word Bearers, and fantastic fun to paint. They're just small freehand marks of Gal Vorbak Red in lines and curves, with highlights (the same colours detailed above) added away from the light source. When trying this out, I suggest you keep your light source as simple as possible: directly overhead. Once you're confident, it seems like it'd be fun to play with light sourcing; perhaps having the highlights picked up from a hand-held torch, or something.+

+ The silver masks were inspired by the front cover of the boardgame. Lucifer216, the PCRC's resident Word Bearer fanatic, tells me that this may indicate a marine is part of the Chapter of Consecrated Iron, or Vakrah Jal. The Vakrah Jal are an elite group of the Legion, so it's possible that these luckless marines are disgraced members of the Chapter... 

... or perhaps something else. It is heavily hinted in Forge World's Horus Heresy book on the conflict that the Word Bearers sent to Calth included many disguised as different Chapters, in order to help disguise the numbers of the Legion present. The aim was to hide Lorgar's treachery as the bulk of his forces set out on the Shadow Crusade. Thus, these marines may simply have been disguised as members of the Consecrated Iron. Who knows? +

+ Since this force is meant to represent be a fairly rag-tag group of Word Bearer survivors skilled or lucky enough to get into the Calth Arcologies, I'm looking forward to exploring a number of different Chapters. The following Chapters are 'canon': 

  • Asps of the Sacred Sands, 
  • Flayed Hand, 
  • Graven Star, 
  • Inscribed, 
  • Twisting Rune, 
  • Third Hand – from which (possibly?) Kurtha Sedd and the other characters in the Betrayal at Calth game come.
  • Unspeaking.
+ Since I only have twenty marines to paint, I doubt I'll include all of these, but I am keen to develop a couple of my own Chapters: the Blasted Cedar [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], for example. If you'd like a member of your own Chapter to appear, please let me know some details – I'd be delighted to give 'em a go! +

+ Examples of Word Bearer Chapter iconography +

+ The variation this will offer will go a long way to explaining any slight differences in colour and decoration – though at the end of the day, your own models never need any justification beyond 'I like them', of course!. +

+ Besides paint schemes, different parts can be used to distinguish between Chapters. Even early in the Horus Heresy, the Word Bearers offer a great chance to use Chaos Marine bits when building them – as demonstrated by the two marines above: clearly linked, but with distinction between them. This is another rich source to mine. A lot of the M41 Chaos aesthetic is drawn from their distinctive look – they are the ur-example of the traitors.  +

+ Brothers Bac Vorkar of the Third Hand and Vannis Gen of the Inscribed +

+ inload: Word Bearer Painting WIP +

+ The Sins of our Brothers +

+ Misguided and treacherous? Perhaps. Either way, Word Bearers are still quite intimidating! This work-in-progress example is set alongside a standard human, and the size differential is striking. +

+ I got stuck into painting last night, and managed to work through most of the basics of one Word Bearer:

+ I've opted for a much simpler approach, building from Mephiston Red with sparing highights of Fire Dragon Bright. The real challenge I'm finding here is to differentiate the scheme from my Blood Angels. Certainly at this stage it's very similar, so I'm looking at ways to further distinguish the two schemes. I've written down a few of my thoughts below, but I'd very much appreciate any ideas or guidance you'd care to share. +

+ The geometric etchings [REF: helmet above, and shin below] are one way to create some difference, and very fun to do, so I'll likely extend that across the force. They'll also appear on the black shoulder pads. Some devotional script would be easy to add; and perhaps some candles? Quite suitably spooky for All Hallows E'en! +

+ I've made a rod for my own back by following the scheme on the front cover – though looking at it now, the red in the artwork is more of a purply claret colour. Maybe I'll try some purple glazing – or switch to a different base colour, such as the new Gal Vorbak Red rather than Mephiston Red, for future models. Shame, as I rather like the result I've got on this figure so far. +

+ The silver 'mask' in the artwork above is a point of differentiation that I've included, and the addition of the Legion and Chapter markings will go a long way to making them obviously Word Bearers. Still... not quite there yet. One thing I haven't done with my Blood Angels is heavy weathering. That's a deliberate stylistic choice to evoke the 90s-style painting, but it'd work nicely on these Word Bearers in the furious fight on Calth. +

+ The rear shot shows the conversion work to replace Sergeant Jovan's leg with the similar one from the Captain model. Note also the black-washed metal. Normally I'd use a combination of colours to avoid the 'dead' look of the metal as shown, but it's another point of differentiation from the Blood Angels. +

+ Finally, another Word Bearer figure. Note the pitted pauldron, which is again from the Sergeant Jovan model. It might seem a bit grand to chop up limited models, but in sacrificing one unique figure, I can make quite a few that benefit from being just slightly different or unusual. To me, that's a better way of using what is, at root, just another plastic figure. I think of these limited releases as seasoning – I don't want one 'heavily-salted' figure in a bland army – I'd prefer all of them to share. +

+ inload: Kurtha Sedd's Word Bearers +

+ Kurtha Sedd at Calth +

+ Apologies for the chrono-interim since the last inload, it's been a busy – and exciting – period. As well as some happy personal news, I've also been invited to participate in a couple of events, so behind the scenes things are a-brewing... +

+ However, no-one comes to read a blog about things they can't see, so here's something else I've been enjoying playing with: Word Bearers. +

+ Despite being a trifle short on hobby time, I squeezed in a game of Betrayal at Calth. This is a boardgame, released a few years back, from which I long since cannibalised the model parts. +

+ Although I had unearthed it on a whim, I found it to be a strikingly good game; fun, tactical and – importantly – quick to set up, play and pack up. It seemed a shame to be using proxy models for the Word Bearers (the Ultramarines side being well-supplied by my Praetors of Calth), so I've started to build a set of Word Bearers. +

+ I very much enjoyed building my Astral Claws Kill Team [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] and dwarfs for Shadespire [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], and I suspect much of that is because they were small, self-enclosed projects. This is a slightly larger undertaking – twenty-one marines plus a dreadnought – so to avoid burnout, these are deliberately relatively simple conversions. Hobby time has become rather a precious commodity, so I'm making some compromises here and there. +

+ Kurtha Sedd (front centre) and a mob of Word Bearers at various stages of corruption +
+ Rather than being the more involved true-scaling I used for my Ultramarines, Iron Warriors etc., I'm using Primaris as the base, as for my Astral Claws and Blood Angels. This vastly speeds things up. +

+ Using parts from the limited edition Sergeant Jovan let me get some cool posing through easy kitbashing rather than involved conversion. +

+ One of the nice things about the Word Bearers in Betrayal at Calth is that background-wise they're meant to be a bit of a hodge-podge. At this stage in the Heresy, the different Chapters of the Legion were already beginning to have their own traditions and customs – particularly in terms of how they showed their devotion to the Dark Gods. This is exacerbated because the game concentrates on scattered survivors meeting up in the underground arcologies. +

+ Background-wise, Lorgar sent all these marines to their deaths, in service to a greater plan. As well as the primary aim of summoning the Ruinstorm, destroying Calth wholesale formed a purge of his Legion, an opportunity to rid himself of vacillators, doubters and – conversely – those too unstable and fanatical; or who could not get over an obsession with the Ultramarines. This is a great excuse to include a variety of different styles, and just have fun. I think including relatively uncorrupted figures (like the marine below) alongside more Chaotic-looking ones helps to create a sense of continuity – and tragedy, by making it clear that such corruption can build through reasonable-seeming steps; rather than jumping straight into the mouth of madness. 

+ This mini-project therefore lets me save some time by using a couple of previously abortive attempts without modification: the Chapters of the Blasted Cedar and the Justifiers. These more extreme examples will fit in beautifully, I think, and any variation can be happily explained in-universe by variation between Chapters. +

+ A simple marine – with a different paintjob, he could easily be an Ultramarine. +

+ I always find space marines fun to kitbash and convert, since there's such a wide range of kits. Using Primaris as the basis for this diverse mix also lets me liberally add various cool bits that haven't found a home elsewhere to this group – allowing me to switch from more restrained marines (such as the two above) to those with more traditionally Chaotic visuals – up to and including some all-out mutated figures based on Gal-Vorbak. +

+ The new Chaos Havoc arms and backpacks fit perfectly on the Primaris marines; you need only trim away the backpack 'nub' from the body. +

+ And speaking of the Gal Vorbak, here's a size comparison pic of a simple arm swap conversion (left) from the Gal Vorbak alongside a Primaris-based marine (right). Very similar, no? +

+ inload: Badab +

+ Back to Badab +

+ A few inloads back, I showed I was working on casualties for Kill Team Clawthorn [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]; here are the first four dead/injured versions, undercoated and ready for paint. +

+ A couple of new marines have appeared, too. Being fairly anonymous, I'm not sure whether to add them to the Astral Claws or start a second Kill Team, perhaps Star Phantoms or Novamarines. +

+ While I was undercoating, I took the opportunity to spray a couple of individuals: a squat and Titan crewman (thanks to the very generous Omricon for the latter). +

+ inload: Order of Solar Ascendant +

+ Adepta Sororitas Order of Solar Ascendant

+ The Order of Solar Ascendant are one of the numerous Ordos Minoris of the Adepta Sororitas that maintain a presence in Antona Australis. +

+ Disposition +

+ Established during the Fourth Scallop Star Purges (M37.778–789), the Order venerates the Crone of Iocaste, an historical figure whose tale became conflated with a number of local folkloric sources. The Crone herself, Badam Kaur, was an eyeless and earless mutant; who nevertheless came to lead a minor Imperial Crusade against the forces of the Archenemy. Beatified in M39, the historical Crone – a divisive and thoroughly fascinating mass of contradictions – has become lost in the shifting sands of Imperial records; and is now venerated simply as Saint Iocanthe, a flawless beautiful and scrupulously virtuous being who was martyred during the end of the Hesiod Romantic Rebellion. +

+ The Order maintains a number of Missions, both in Antona Australis itself and the neighbouring Prodigium Os Sector, but its largest grouping is the Commandery based in the Sarum system. +


+ Tinctures and Seals +

+ The Order of Solar Ascendant clad their followers in a split scheme; half their armour black as night; the other half bathed in the light of Sol, which the Order venerates as a symbol of the God-Emperor's beneficence. Their surplice-cloaks are the blue of the night sky, marked with symbolic star-markings that denote the Emperor's watchful eye over all of his worlds. +

+ As is perhaps inevitable, given the sheer size and exhausting weight of Imperial records, the Order's heraldry bears similarities to many other uniforms in Imperial records. This is far from exceptional. Of particular note, however, is the fact that the scheme is not merely similar, but identical to that of the short-lived Frateris Constantium – a formation that last operated in M35, during the Alien Wars of the Nova Terra Interregnum.

'The principal military force of the Nova Terran branch of the Adeptus Ministorum, the Frateris Constantium formed a mirror to the Nova Terran Army. Both were precociously well armed and equipped by their Adeptus backers, but where the NTA attracted the more puritanical, the Frateris Templar were swelled by those who sought ritual and reliability in a world of swiftly-changing fortunes. '
[+appendnote+: A number of ancient texts indicate that the organisation of the Frateris Constantium was the direct inspiration for the later Frateris Templar, under the infamous Eccleisarchs of later Millennia – +authorident: Unfortunus Veck+ +]
+ What significance this has – and if indeed this is naught but coincidence –has been the subject of Inquisitorial investigation by the aforementioned Unfortunus Veck during the Sun King of Cepheus affair. Records are currently cloistered for Scarlet-level Inquisitorial staff and above. + 


+ Representatives: Callistus and Makemeet +

+ Sisters Callistus and Makemeet are typical Errant examples of the Order; trusted Battle Sisters that are deputised as bodyguards to important Ecclesiarchal representatives. They are tasked with ensuring the physical and spiritual safety of those under their aegis. Service as a Sororitas Errant-Solar is necessary to progress within the order; though outwardly seeking such promotion is regarded as sinful. An Ordinate of the Solar Ascendant must be nominated by her Superiors to such a task. +

+ The symbol of the Order is a rising Solar disc, bathing the unworthy world in the light of the Emperor. This pict-capture shows the star-patterned cloaks well. +

+ Sister Callistus +

+ Sister Makemeet +

+ inload: Blood Angels retrohammer Dreadnought +

+ Furibundus-Perfidium Dreadnought +

+ A real blast from the pa... no, wait, a beautifully executed fan-resculpt; an affectionate update of the classic Rogue Trader-era Dreadnought. I'm blocking in a few bits here and there, and thoroughly enjoying it. +

+ Painting is progressing fairly slowly as I feel my way around the sculpt. This is, I hasten to add, no fault of the sculpting (great) or casting (beautifully clean), but simply that it's fun to work on a model that updates a real childhood favourite. +

+ The image above it quite a good example of what layering translucent paint layers (I hesitate to call it glazing, as the layers aren't as dilute) can do. The lower half has a couple of additional layers of Vallejo's Flat Red; the upper part is just Mephiston Red undercoat. +


+ Spot-On Models in Swindon was the only place I could buy models for many years (likely owing to the appearance of GW Swindon, it now specialises as a model train shop), and in amongst the racks of blisters from the likes of Grenadier, Marauder, Citadel and Old Crow was a second-hand area. +

+ Clutching a birthday fiver, I bought a Dreadnought from this stash, beautifully-painted in red. It got used as a robot for my Imperial Guard; turned up in Space Crusade games as a counterpoint to the ED-209 Chaos Dreadnought; and at my dogged insistence* once appeared in my (very indulgent brother's) Advanced Heroquest dungeon. It got boxed-up, uncovered, dropped, repaired, repainted into a quartered scheme – and then I lost it. +

+ A quick scale comparison shot +
+ Even through the mists of nostalgia, I can recognise that the original sculpt was fairly crude, but it's lovely to have a modern version. To modern eyes it may be blocky and unrefined, but it just absolutely radiates the Rogue Trader era to me. I'm delighted to have it in my army! + 

* Whinging.


+ inload: Painted Terminator +

+ One long painting session later, and we've got a painted 'truescale' Blood Angels Terminator ready to make war in the name of the Great Angel and Emperor of Mankind. +

+ I started with one of the line troopers – if such a term is appropriate for a centuries-old veteran posthuman, clad like a walking tank. I used the same approach here as for the rest of my Blood Angels [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], with the simple substitution of Valljo's Flat Red for the mix of Merphiston Red and Vallejo Vermillion. +

+ I'm happy with the finished result, though may add a few honour markings. I'm slightly wary about losing the monumental feel, but he's currently looking a bit 'bog-standard'. +


+ How big is a Terminator? +

+ Since writing the tutorial [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] – which has quickly became, and remained, the most viewed post on the blog – I've had a few questions about how big the results are. The base figures are expensive (particularly since the bits shops are now seemingly permanently bare!), so I think it's quite understandable that readers want as much info as possible on what the results should be like before they commit. Here are some pictures of them besides some other figures to give a better idea of size. +

+ If you do give the tutorial a go – or better yet, come up with a new species for the Alien Wars – please do pop it up on the + Death of a Rubricist + Facebook group, or use the #alienwars tag on Instagram. +

+ The Terminator (40mm base) next to a Primaris marine (32mm base). +

+ Dealing with some pesky Orks. +

+ Next to a baseline human (25mm base) – well, if Inquisitor Unfortunus Veck counts as baseline! +

+ ...and next to another work-in-progress; a Battle Sister of the Order of Solar Ascendant. +

+ What next? +

+ What use is one Terminator? Well, quite a lot, actually – but as you can see, his mates here demand attention too. +

+ inload: Truescale Terminators +

+ If you'd like to have a go at building some 'truescale' Terminators, the tutorial is in this inload [+noosphericinoadlink embedded+]. Please do feel free to share your results on the + Death of a Rubricist + Facebook group or on instagram with the #alienwars tag too – it's always nice to see how other autoscribes and datinloaders develop and push ideas in new (and improved!) directions. +


+ A bit of a clear-out last night – some models have languished near-finished for far too long on my station, so a dedicated push saw a few things finally ticked off. First off; Blood Angels Terminators for The Alien Wars

+ Squad Redemptor, First Company +

+ Known more formally within the Chapter as 'Sustainers; First-amongst-equals of the War Eternal under Master Formosus, Lord of the Host, Master of the divided Legion and heir of Sanguinius', Squad Redemptor are the elites of my Blood Angels force. +

+ The minor tweaks are simply embellishments to the underlying shape, which have been in place for ages. +


+ Brother Lesandro (Caranial 6:18) +

+ Brother Martial (Agshekolah 2:09) +
+  The inspiration can be seen below, bottom left. This shot's interesting (well, from a nerd-archaeology point of view), because it's got the Dreadnought in – as far as I know, this is the only time it appeared alongside the army. +

+ A size comparison, showing the size of the Terminators next to a Primaris-sized model. +


+ Chapter Master Formosus +

+ Or, to give him his full title: Master Formosus, Lord of the Host, Master of the divided Legion and heir of SanguiniusLeonid Castivarus is the Chapter Master of the Blood Angels in M35.400 – so who's Formosus? Well, he's my own invention. The Rogue Trader-era Terminator Captain was an iconic model for me, though I never had one myself. This was a fun opportunity to give it a go myself. +

+ Since Formosus is suceeded by Castivarus, Formosus will have to die (or get lost) during the Alien Wars. That suits me. It's nice to create a character with a set 'end date', as it builds its own mini-narrative through gaming. +

+ The colour text below was how I introduced him:


Puglius bears a warning. "The Shint. The Confederacy of Muspa. The bone-eating Brachiacy. The Q'orl. The denizens of Angelis." The Chaplain-sabatine looks out across the vast table at the scanty gathering, which represents the voice of the Chapter. Many seats are empty.

"All recorded extinct since the time of Master Concio." Puglius goes on, his gaze level. "All have appeared in scryomantic reports from the Tower of Buto since the Kolonio last changed."

The Exortio leans forward awkwardly in the Siege Recorda, the throne reserved for the representative of the Librarius at Chapter Meetings. "It is no mark of disfavour that such beings return;  my lord – rather it is more likely a mis-classifi-"

He is cut off by a curt bark from the lone librarian still present in the Monastery, a lowly – and clearly resentful – Lexicanium who looms to one side and slightly behind the oversized throne.

"That remains to be seen."

The Exortio, a serf representing the Librarius at this Chapter meeting in the absence of the Chief Librarian and his Epistolary lieutenants, is uncomfortable, and poor at masking his turmoil. He squirms in the throne, attempting to address the librarian politely without turning his back on the gathered representatives, his face a mass of tics – and his voice an awkward, blurting mix of indignation, frustration, and no little wariness.

"With respect, Lord -"

 "Then grant me that respect; serf, and be silent." The librarian intones. It is clear from his tone that this is a well-worn argument, however new the topic. The Exortio turned back, his face pale and drawn, as the Lexicanium steps forward and addresses Puglius directly. "Xenos are gathering, Chaplain-sabatine, and this is a mark of the Emperor's disfavour-"

"Be silent!" yells Formosus, crashing his fist down on the ancient durwood table. In the hush that follows, Formosus rises to this feet. "This is not a matter of spirituality! This scholastic debate ends here! Now!" His breathing is heavy, his eyes ablaze. "For too long, the Chapter has mired itself in sophism and semantics, shying away from decision and duty."

Tycho of the Third and Abelard, the brevet-Captain of the Fifth, bristle. The Episcopate military-ordinaries who stand in for the eight absent Captains, remain impassive.

Accompanied by a dismissive gesture at the Siege Recorda, whose incumbent shrinks within his robe, Formosus' voice drops to a growl. "On one hand, I am served by withinlookmen, polemicists and navel-gazers." Here, he waves to the librarian, who removes his hands from the table as though it has suddenly become red-hot. "On the other, by intellectual fanatics and firebrands, who would have me turn on the Imperium itself."

The Lexicanium straightens, appears about to speak, but is silenced with a glare as the Chapter Master continues.

"How would you have the Children of Sanguinius serve? That is the question here. That is the only point of relevance. I am not ignorant of the risks and challenges of the twin Imperium; nor am I convinced by either side of the argument. No." His eyes narrow. "We do not shy from risk. We do not avoid challenges. We are the Blood Angels; with a proud history that dates back to the very formation of the Emperor's realms. We stand above these petty arguments; as symbols of something better."

He leans over the table.

"I have reached my decision."

The others, brethren and servants alike, are silent.

"We go to war."

The expressions on the gathered faces are varied; concern, anger, hope.

"I grow not hot with love for the denizens of Terra, nor still Nova Terra – we will not move against them. Nor still do we involve ourselves with the debates of the Ophelian and Terran Churches, however strongly some of you will it one way or the other. No. The place of the Blood Angels is not to determine the path of mankind – neither in spirit nor in body. Our task is to serve. I will not suffer humanity to huddle in its bastions and fastnesses, preparing war against each other; not while the Emperor's realm is cut and torn and raided from outside. Such decisions are not ours to make. Let righteousness lead mankind; and strength gird whichever side is in the right."

Formosus appears poised.

"Our duty is to war against the Alien, as He-on-Earth willed it. We will make a new war; and re-carve the borders of the segmentum. Too long have we fought guardedly, hindered by uncertainty and riven by internal debate. Now we shall fight gloriously."

He glares around the table.

"Such is the will of the Master of the Chapter of the Angels of the Blood; and through him the will of the Old Masters, and the First Angel; and through him alone, the Emperor. If you want an answer to the question of humanity's soul, you will obey me, as we lead by example. We will cast back and darkness and see which Imperium – old or new – and which priests, whether of Terra or Ophelia, follows us in our Emperor-appointed task."

"Thus, I declare the Alien Wars begun."