Friday, August 28, 2015

+ inload: Loss of the Boeotian +

The clouds of metaphor part every so often, and I can see out. Sometimes onto a war-wearied future, sometimes on to a past I recognise. Ten thousand years has passed out there in the sidereal world, or so I think. Adrift on the tides, scattered across this meaningless space, I cry out.

Boeotian!

Gone, all hands presumed lost. In another time, in another place, the great bell of lost souls on Terra might have rung; a great, slow, sad peal for each of the Emperor's precious angels drowned in the Sea of Souls.

Not now. Not for them.

Rarely it is that I can speak, and rarer still to something that understands. I am glad you are here. Sorry, too, for it means that you have come as adrift from reality as myself. You have eternity here now, in the wallowing lucidity of the dreamsea.

Let me tell you, then, star-lost sailor to star-lost sailor, of how I came adrift. Of how stone and iron clashed, and of how I fell overboard from the starship Boeotian.

+++

+ I had a great game of Space Hulk against my pal Bob Hunk earlier in the week; here's the report: +

+ The Battle of Phall – part 1 +

+ The Imperial Fists are in reluctant retreat. Even as their fleet slips away, boarding assaults are launched; spiteful and proud. The Iron Warrior Strike Cruiser Boeotian, part of the reserve line of assault, recklessly moves past an ailing Imperial Fists Cobra-class Destroyer in its efforts to catch up with the escaping Fists. +

+ Its torpedo and engines wrecked, the Captain of the First Strike orders a full assault on the Boeotian. A cloud of boarding torpedoes, drop pods and assault rams sprays into the aether and slams into the Iron Warriors craft. Within minutes, hundreds of Imperial Fists are pouring into the Strike Cruiser, intent upon capturing the vessel – or scuttling it, if that is the only option. +


+ Half an hour after first contact, and with damage to the generatoria plunging most decks into the uncertain strobing light of gunfire, a group of Iron Warriors are directed to prevent the Fists from activating the Gellar fields – this close to the jump point, the VII Legion could make it into the warpswell of a Capital ship and escape, capturing the Boeotian. +



Disposition of deployment. Gellar field control in the central green room.

+ A lone Iron Warrior rushes forward, braving overwatch fire from the surprised Imperial Fists, to allow his comrades to push forward. + 



+ Undaunted, the Fists continue their steady advance. +



+ The Fist on point ducks down a corridor as a flamer-armed marine steps forward in synchronicity as perfect as a closing gauntlet. The Iron Warrior is doused in burning promethium jelly, but his sturdy armour proves strong. +



+ The Iron Warriors make the most of the cover. +



+ An Iron Warrior guards an intersection... +




+ Long range fire takes out the Iron Warrior sergeant.+



+ Stoic in victory, the Imperial Fist pushes up to contest the centre. +


+ The overwatching Iron Warrior guns down a trailing member of the flanking force... +


+ ...Only to be doused in flame! Again, his armour proves unusually resilient. +


+ Honours even on casualties, the Imperial Fists keep focus and close in on the objective. +


+ Realising the peril, the Iron Warriors rush to cover the door, leaving their flank exposed. +


+ The Imperial Fist sergeant guns down the Iron Warrior attempting to cover the door, but his trailing companion is caught by a burst from the advancing Iron Warrior support. +


+ The Imperial Fists remain close together; while the Iron Warriors have become strung out. The disciplined Fist Sergeant resists the urge to claim the Gellar field controls and instead covers his brother's advance. +



+ Desperately voxing for back-up, the lone Iron Warriors near the controls pushes forward, desperate to hold the ship.+


+ ...But his furious assault proves no match for the disciplined crossfire of the Fists.+

+ Hearing running footsteps, the victorious Fist turns about smartly, just in time to execute the remaining Iron Warrior with a stream of boltfire. +


+ Nodding grimly, the Imperial Fist sergeant confirms victory, then turns to the controls... +

+ IMPERIAL FIST VICTORY +

+ Elsewhere on the ship, the loyalists meet furious resistance from the treacherous Iron Warriors... +

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

+ inload: Detecting a theme? +

+ Painted a bit more last night, to bring the Iron Warriors a bit further along. I have a game based loosely on Space Hulk to play tonight, so hopefully we'll see a few of these in action on this blog soon. +

+ Phalangites Eucon and Chalkaspides +

+ Not a huge amount to say about these chaps, except that they used to be Novamarines. I think the updates and alterations – new backpacks, boltguns, a combat blade in hand for Chalkaspides; and of course the additional bulking of the upper legs – has improved them a little. +

+ Phalangite Tolga, Palatarch Songul and Phalangite Munin +

+ The two on the left are similarly updated Novamarines, the third is a completely new model. While there are differences in the technique, I think the paint scheme goes a long way to binding them together. +

+ It's probably worth noting that a dark metallic scheme like this allows quite a bit of leeway in repainting – and probably hides a multitude of sins! +

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

+ inload: Phalangite Radoslav +


'Adtactus!' 
Radoslav was on his feet, heavy footfalls slamming and skewing on the treacherous dusty marble. he dashed a dozen yards or so, then threw himself down, his dull iron armour skidding him along into the dubious cover of a statue. The pediment was shattered irrecoverably, almost as though it had burst, and the statue itself – a titanic figure, twenty foot or more high – had fallen lengthways. His boltgun tucked firmly in one hand, Radoslav began crawling quickly along the length towards the head.

Alongside the sudden roars and heavy crack-boom of boltguns, and beneath the steady high-pitched rattle of rotor cannon fire, there were the smaller sounds of war. The drizzle of brass shellcases onto marble floors, the crunch-fluid scrabbling of sand and rubble, and the rising hum and buzz of auto-reactive power armour.

Two more Iron Warriors skidded in behind him, their backs to the statue. The first, an unhelmeted figure with a nose not so much broken as smeared across his face, nodded to him. His eyes gleamed, mischievously and his grin revealed a mouth full of broken teeth. As one, the three rose up, boltguns in hand, firing as soon as they crested the statue. 

It was good cover. 

It was not good enough. The lower half of the statue vanished in a sudden cloud of marble dust that billowed like clapped board dusters in a scholam. 

The Larraman's Ear was intended to allow an Astartes line warrior super-sensitive hearing. His autosenses worked in concert to cut out damaging auditory input; ensuring the best of both worlds. For this reason, Radoslav felt the explosion more than heard it, though such was the power of the impact that his armour itself rang like a bell. The rigid armour plates rippled, cracking and crimping. He felt his left hand being pulped, and the armour straining to hold his leg straight to prevent major joint breakage.

A secondary function of the Larraman's Ear – implanted into the skull in the space vacated by the scooped-out and discarded pulp of the inner ear – was to ensure the Astartes was almost impossible to disorientate or confuse. It was this, and this alone, that meant Radoslav was immediately able to scrabble backwards and avoid the second, third and fourth detonations which brought down the roof of the building.

Demo charges. Demo charges. The Fists were destroying the Palace itself to keep them out. Battered and bleeding, Radoslav slunk back to the lines to find an apothecary.

+++

+ Phalangite Ignace Radoslav +


+ Blue eye-lenses gleaming, Ignace Radoslav is clad in an entire suit of Voss Prime-pattern Crusade armour, augmented by Sol Militaris pattern bracers, and a greave reinforced with molecular bonding studs – possibly a field adaptation made during the Siege. A final flourish is the helmet, a common artificer-altered type that combines reinforced forward plating with a stylised version of the Legion symbol. It was a common and popular variant amongst the Iron Warriors, who were well-known for customising and improving their issued plate. +


This shot shows a holstered umbra-pattern boltpistol, indicating his thigh plate does not support magnetic locking. It is possible that Radoslav is a void-war specialist, though this is not confirmed by his current tactical markings; presumably updated between the Battle of Phall and the ground war on Mars. +


+ Many believed the Iron Warriors to be clad in unpainted ceramite, but as this shot shows, there is a subtle difference between the duller metal of the rear-facing hooped armour and backpack (both simply sealed ceramite) and the brighter iron finish of the plate. Ferrous compounds were bonded with the ceramite and burnished to give a bright reflective finish before issue. These were almost invariably hidden beneath layers of grime and soot during active combat, though some Iron Warriors did march in gleaming ranks. +


+ Radoslav is believed to have survived the War on Terra, as a number of sightings marked him as being a combatant during at least two campaigns of the Great Scouring; conducted by the Blood Angels and Raven Guard. +

Monday, August 24, 2015

+ inload: Into the Breach! +


+ Spent a bit of time building over the weekend, so I've a few new marines nearly ready for paint. +





+ Really pleased with the pose on this guy. The base is Vulkan's. Can't decide whether to trim it down to 30mm, or leave it as-is. +




A new boltgun-armed marine. After some umming and ahhing, I decided to leave the Cataphract details in place on the legs. I usually trim 'em off, but I'm finding the metallic Iron Warriors scheme benefits from more detail than the Ultramarines to help accentuate tonal changes.

...and a potential Praetor/Centurion. 

I wanted to get across the dual 'not-yet-Chaos, not quite Imperial' feel; so there's a mix of Imperial Eagles and spikes/stars. He's intended to be fighting for an Imperium with Horus enthroned – that way the Iron Warriors will be forgiven for the actions on Olympia. 

Sadly (for him at least), we know that isn't how things turn out. 

Chaos is an ever-present danger for humanity in the grim darkness of the far future. It's a subtle and tempting proposition for everyone; and doubly so for those who are desperate. 

No-one can truly master Chaos. Enslavement, madness and horror accompany the power and freedom it promises.

I wanted to reflect this in the model; so alongside a furious head, he's got an inverted halo on his armour that hints at a collar. Held behind him  is an Imperial power axe, while held in front of him is a new power axe with traitor symbology such as the Eye of Horus and eight-pointed star. He's leaving his past behind, and marching unwittingly into horror.

Not quite finished yet, though additions will be fairly minor. Probably a banner, pouches etc. I really like this head, but am not sure it's quite right here. I'm sort of tempted to make his head swappable – the Mark III helm I had there earlier looked brutal, and I liked the faceless quality it gave; but equally I like the raw emotion of this desperate howl.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

+ inload: Leg day at the Siege +

+ As I do fairly often, I'm reusing some older figures for a new project. These marines will become Iron Warriors. I was planning on simply repainting them and swapping their bolt guns and backpacks for Horus Heresy era ones. However, as I worked on them I decided I wasn't happy with them, and so started to make some changes. +

 + I'm using Procreate modelling party in order to bulk out the upper legs (they looked a bit puny to me before), along with the backs. In addition, I have trimmed the shoulder pad trims down to be narrower - very fiddly, but I think it's improving them. +


+ This detail shows how I've bulked up the inner thighs to give a more powerful appearance. +


+  In addition, I took some Grey Knight terminators and decided to practise my putty skills - go back to my roots, so to speak. I started by trimming the way extraneous detail including the hip plates,  then began to build up smooth surfaces with more Procreate. The torso on the left is a mark IV style. The legs are also mark IV. +

+ inload: Ikoi Konstantin +

+ Ikoi Konstantin, Phalangite of XIX Muster +


Encamped barely three dolichos from what had been the Imperial's third line of defence, the whole Muster had been pushing through anonymous Terran rad-desert dotted with the remnants of ancient habitation. 

The siege allowed few moments of rest, but for some reason, the land was virtually silent. Aside from the dull systolic thuds of distant guns and the white jet-streaks of flyers, it could almost be peacetime. While ruined by artillery fire and the inlet of scouring, radiation-laden winds, Ikoi could see that the area had been reclaimed; made part of the Palace during the Unification Wars. The ground was still dusty and dry, but here and there vegetation could be seen clustered scantily in hollows near the smouldering buildings. Weeds. Brambles. Even berries, here and there. 

Ikoi was seized by a peculiar sensation. Recognition. Not letting his boltgun drop, he slowed his pace, warily. It was

He had been born here. Sek-Amrak

An ikon flashed in his vision, marking his elevated heartrate. After more than two centuries, he had returned. It was changed, of course, but...

He dismissed the insistent ikon absently, and stalked over to the vegetation. His vision was clearer when last he had stood here. He felt an uncontrollable urge to remove his helm, see the land of his birth with his own eyes. Doffing his helmet, the wind hit his sweaty face, cooling and rad-hot at the same time. 

His eyelid twitched. The ground was too sharp, too precise. Decades of war – and more prosaically, his occulobe organ – had made things alien, unfamiliar; had robbed the surroundings of any nostalgic comfort. He inhaled, a strange pressure mixed in with the tingle of quickly-neutralised toxins.

Kneeling down, he brushed aside the brambles, slowly at first, then increasingly fast, until he found a cluster of saphberries. Most were withered and dry, but three – just three – remained summer-swollen, a glorious rich burgundy. Delicately, silently, he pulled them from the branch, the textured iron of his gauntlet-tips seeming ungainly. He looked at them in his palm for a long moment, then popped them into his mouth, suddenly desperate, suddenly bereft.

They were bitter, spoiled by their exposure to the desert. The berries contained none of the wine-thick sweetness he remembered, none of the tang. His brow furrowed and face blackened as an auditory chime alerted him to toxins, chemicals. He balled his fists and screwed his eyes up. For a moment or two, he felt a hot, breathless ache that had nothing to do with poison; nothing to do with the war. 

Staring ahead at the Imperial Fists' fourth line, his face resumed its usual blank, sharp expression, as though a shutter had fallen across it. Replacing his helm with a sharp, swift motion, he stood. He paused just for a moment, casting a long shadow through the sick air, then briskly strode away. 

+++


+ Layered in a complex mongrel suit of plate, Konstantin's torso and shoulder plates are examples of Nu-Saturnian pattern, a type superceded not long after the First Expedition reached past Pluto in the early years of Crusade. The remainder of the suit is of Voss-Prime extraction with the exception of the helm, based on an artificer-pattern common amongst the IVth Legion. +



+ The power pack is a similarly old examples of Sol-Militaris pattern. Unlike the torso and pauldron plate, its age is unremarkable on an active Legionary. This variant was superceded towards the end of the Great Crusade by Mark IV, but was often retained by veterans owing to its reliability and great resilience. +


+ A newer Tigrus-pattern boltgun, and standard pauldron markings help with the identification of this legionary. His corpse – scorched beyond gene-rune retrieval – was recovered from a temporary bunker complex dug beneath the Auro Marches after the Siege, and verified as Ikoi Konstantin, a Terran veteran of numerous campaigns, including the Dol-Mars campaign, Saryine Pacification, and the notorious Battle of Black Blades. Konstantin was – at least temporarily – assigned to the 282nd Grand Battalion, though whether this indicates the formations presence here is moot; as the area was subject to atomic bombardment during the Siege, glassing the plateau. +


+ Legionaries like Ikoi Constantin present scholars and recordicians with much to discuss. How could those had fought to reclaim Terra in the Unification Wars; many of whom had seen or even met the Emperor directly, return to rain such terrible destruction on mankind's birthworld? +

+ The answers are as numerous as stars in the sky, and – as is often the case with the subtle corruption of Chaos – often rooted in a yearning for freedom; for an unshackling from the increasingly oppressive and invasive bureaucracy of the Adeptus Terra. +

+ At root, the Legiones Astartes represent a terrible contradiction as old as humanity itself: an invading force tasked with liberation. That underlying and subconsicious confusion is fertile ground for the Archenemy to sow with doubts. +

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

+ inload: Hynn Yavuz +

+ Hynn Yavuz, Palatarch of XIXth Muster +


+ With the olive skin and black hair common to the Olympian phenotype, Hynn Yavuz is a typical physical example of an Iron Warrior subcommander. Palatarch is an obselete rank roughly equivalent to sergeant; another example of a non-standard replacement term introduced post-Isstvan. It was little known before the Heresy, and faded into near-disuse soon afterwards. +



 + Yavuz' shoulderplate bears the same iconography on Or stripe as his squadmates. Unlike (say) the XVI or VII Legions, who were encouraged to seek personal glory, the Iron Warriors culture was geared towards the strength of the whole, with every member's personal achievements being subsumed within the larger group – from squad to Company to Legion. This, and other, structured codes of behaviour caused tensions as individuals reinforced them ruthlessly while inwardly chafing against them. +

+ Perhaps this irresolvable tension was an intentional result of Perturabo's teachings. Certainly it fuelled the Legion's aggressiveness as the troops vented their frustrations on their enemies, while maintaining a coldly precise and disciplined demeanour. +

+ In any case, promotion in the IVth Legion was a byzantine affair quite divorced from honour, glory or acts of inspired battlecraft as was common with other legions; instead being based on an inscrutably complex system of codes and strictures. Almost all Iron Warrior commanders, including officers of the line, shared a willingness to sacrifice the part to the whole. Thus it may be that an officer identified an weakness in an enemy line, or a faster warp route, allowing his force to achieve victory more swiftly. Equally it might be that the officer had simply killed a disruptive insubordinate before he could affect operational ability of his squad. +


+ A rear shot shows the distinctive hooped back to the Voss pattern Mark III plate legs, along with the bloom of discolouration common to the Sol-Militaris pattern Mark IV powerpack when hooked up to the inefficient plate. Visible here is a spare combat blade – a near universal though non-standard complement to the Legionaries kit in the IVth Legion. It is sheathed on the left to allow quick retrieval for dual blade work. +



+ Yavuz's armament is a paired Mk IVs 'Thunder Edge' pattern chainsword  and Ikanos pattern bolt pistol. Aside from the yellow-and-black stripes common to Legion honorifics, the armament is almost stereotypical of Legion sergeant equipment – almost as thought it has come straight from the Master of Quarters. This is, of course, a distinct possibility – casualty rates during the Horus Heresy were catastrophic, and promotion was often swift – and brief. +




Squad banners were relatively uncommon amongst the IVth Legions, though far from unknown. In instances where the enemy was known to have the ability to decipher vox-code or intercept data – or when command and control was blocked, hexed or tech-hazed – the Iron Warriors were adept at the use of physical signals, amongst them banners. These were centrally issued to each squad, and were strictly monitored – alteration or customisation was a punishable infraction. As a result, this banner can be easily deciphered: the vertical yellow on black background indicates the XIXth Muster (the similarity to the pauldron tactical markings being either a coincidence or an intentional nod), while the V indicates the line of Chain mastery – in this case, fifth chain. +

+ While known as dour, the Iron Warriors had as keen a sense of tradition as many of their fellow legions. This was never indulged to the detriment of operational efficiency (as was occasionally the case with the III, IX or XVIII), but their aesthetic sense – stoically representational and unimaginative – was often curiously beautiful in its iconographic simplicity. War-banners such as this flew over a hundred battlefields, and were – perhaps surprisingly – encouraged by Perturabo, who saw them as a natural symbolic focus for his 'many-above-one' philosophies. +

+ The white horse has a symbolic meaning that would be well-known to all Olympians. Traditionally, the delivery of a white horse to a rival state was a casus belli; a curious custom that dated back to pre-Compliance. More generally, the horse was the Olympian symbol of high winds and natural disasters, with a number of fanes, temples and festivals dedicated to horse-headed or completely equine deities. As a portent of natural disaster, it was associated with earthquakes, and it is this aspect that is said to have caught Perturabo's mercurial favour – that of the horse as wall-breacher and hold-wrecker. +



+ With his face exposed to the elements, it is clear that Yavuz has no helm. This is likely a simple case his being forced into battle while awaiting replacement or repair. It is also possible that his crude bionic – implanted onto an obviously raw wound – was a temporary jury-rigged affair, and that its size makes it incompatible with use of his helmet. +

+ His superiors would not hesitate to field his Chain if they felt, on balance, that he was better unhelmed than not present on the field. Such is existence for the Iron Warriors; the individual suborned to the needs of the many. One might see this creed as unforgiving – even cruel; but such are the times and theatres in which the IVth Legion fought. +

+ The trophy-heads hung from the belt show the barbarous nature of the unchained Astartes. While the Adepts of Terra might hope that all Legions could be parade-ground perfect as the Emperor's Children or Ultramarines; the Pitiless Fourth show the unalloyed truth of warfare in the darkness of the thirty-first millennium: that it is raw, bloody and cruel. +

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

+ inload: Fifth Chain, XIXth Muster, Stratopedon Tumult +

+ Lodges, Legions and Star-forts +



+ Unification +

+ During the Unification Wars, Legionaries on deployment would prepare a base of operations, which typically consisting of a reinforced command post, barracks for the Legionaries, and a number of storerooms or warehouses. These were typically shaped like a four-pointed star, and became well-known – both for good and ill – throughout Imperial space. All Legions used the basic form, though the IVth, VIIth, XIVth and XVIIIth were well-known to use it in preference to the more fluid, temporary organisations preferred by the IXth, XIth and XIXth. +

+ Crusade +

+ As the Great Crusade began, the growing Legions switched to structures more suited to swift, ship-based organisation as their wars became less concerned with holding ground and the Imperial Army and Militia took over garrison duties. As a result, the growing Astartes Legions tended towards new groupings such as the Company and Wing/Grand Company/Chapter, almost all larger than five hundred marines. +

+ In contrast, the IVth Legion were often broken down into tiny garrison fragments, where they found the rigid structures of the newer Legion organisation lacking. As a result, the Stratopedon – the Olympian term for the star-fort structures – concept became an important organisational tool to the Legion, which helped to patch over the difficulties of micro-management. Indeed, the shape becoming so associated with the Iron Warriors that it was occasionally added as an honorific, typically to the chest. The Stratopedon became a common grouping that sat outside and across the military structure of the Legion, and allowed the Iron Warriors to operate effectively even when split into mere handfuls of men on deployment. +

+ Post-Perturabo +

+ After Perturabo's discovery, and the gradual increase in focus on engineering and meticulous planning amongst the Legion, Stratopeda became more and more complex and involved; with examples of the physical Stratopedon becoming more specialised – some extended deep into the ground, or being entirely temporary and mobile arrangements, with Rhino armoured personnel carriers forming the walls as they stopped. Others were orbital, with six, eight or ten-pointed 'stars' of ships being arranged, bristling guns facing broodingly outwwards. In concert with the physical deployments, the clear-eyed Primarch saw the benefits of an complementary underlying structure to his Legion, and encouraged it to be developed, strengthening and reinforcing the bonds that ran parallel to the rigid hierarchy of the Legion. Eventually, the concept distanced itself from the physical structure, and instead became a mindset: a closed grouping within which the Legionary could be sure of support, regardless of rank – as Perturabo rewarded and punished the members of Stratopeda together. The Iron Warriors' mentality became still more closed and inward-looking; suspicious of outsiders as the Legion bonded together impregnably. +

+ A legionary would thus be officially part of a Company, but would have duties towards his Stratopedon, where he might meet and mingle with Iron Warriors from different Companies. Unfortunately, it also proved the vulnerable point of the Iron Warriors. It was through the infiltration of such structures that the Lodge system became firmly inculcated into the Iron Warriors; the insidious Word Bearers demonstrating a form of emotional siegecraft against which the IVth Legion never thought to develop defences. +

Fifth Chain, XIXth Muster, Stratopedon Tumult

+ Five members of Stratopedon Tumult; representing the core of a Legionary Tactical Squad. Such squads were organised in household chains; with two, four or (more unusually) eight chains forming a Muster. The exact number depended on the specific duties and the number of available legionaries. Chains lived and worked closely together, typically attended by one attendant-slave for every two members. Such chains were then assigned to a Muster, and a representative of each Muster (who might be a Captain, or might be a Legionary) would then meet as headsmen to form a new working group, which became the operational Stratopedon. Over the course of a campaign, a Legionary would thus work with a number of Stratopeda in an overlaying, interlinking mesh; learning to work with Legionaries from all across the Grand Company – and even beyond. +