+ Common Core Concepts +

Thursday, October 27, 2016

+ inload: Members of The Blenheim 2014th +

+ The Blenheim 2014th +


+ I'm very happy with how these guys are coming along. Here's the final two members of the first Hand; a pair of soldiers from the Blenheim MMXIVth (the same regiment as The Two of Beasts, Thorna Tempest, who can be seen in the first image):






Wednesday, October 26, 2016

+ inload: The Sun King's war +



The war, the war. It had not reached every quarter of the vast City; though the ever-present dull glow on the horizon reminded even the most well-ensconsed Wellborne that nobody was truly safe. The initial assault had broken the Cyng-in-exyle's meagre forces and driven them from the City in short order; though the Cyng-in-exile himself was still at large. While some loyal – or foolish – romantics clung, red-eyed, to the idea that the interloping Sun King would be driven out eventually, the result was clear from the start.

Despite this certainty, it was a messy war, being fought by sides that were obscure or unclear. A regiment might fight alongside another before facing it the following day. Groups that were soldiers in name alone marched where ordered, in rags, ribbons and flounces, clearing and burning buildings and habitations that they had trooped through to welcoming cheers not weeks before. Prisoners were executed, or clapped in chains and led off weeping, back to the Palace. Ranks of ragged and dirty soldiers glowered at each other over cobblestones, slick with blood and rubbish and nightsoil, as they clashed again and again; as though toys propelled by idiot children. 

It was a messy war, but not unusual. The folk of the City had seen the incomprehensible internecine wars of the Wellborne fought for generations. Older inhabitants leaned back and smugly told their descendants of older wars survived through guile and courage and cunning – qualities often suspiciously at odds with what those descendants knew of the teller's character. They told of hardships endured and Masterships changing hands; they recounted the different masters to whom they had sworn eternal fealty. Such a war was to be expected, they said. It will pass, they said. Few such folk believed the Cyng-in-exyle's defeat would bring the conflict to an end. The interminable strife and sniping between the Wellborne, and the gang warfare and street brutality this bred were as unchangeable facts of life as the rising and setting of the sun, or the glittering stars in the heavens. 

If the past was any teacher at all, the people knew that the war would be followed by a new and different leader; a new burgomaster or Seer-o'-the-Quarter, and perhaps the announcement of a new Welleborn familyhead to whom they must swear their undying loyalty. It was the way of things. The people knew a new Welleborn would demand taxes, hardship, suffering. To the Welleborn families themselves, the war had proven an ideal excuse to air generation-old grievances and battle openly in the streets; their usual rude thugs supplemented with queer archeotech, off-world trained soldiery, or smuggled high-tech firearms like plastek-clad chatterrifles and iron wands that projected flames. 

If the Sun King cared, he made no sign. 


+++

Displaced populations of now-destroyed villages long-swallowed up by the City were likely to take up arms to find a new quarter to settle: driving out the current inhabitants with cudgel and club, in a domino sub-war beneath that fought by the uniformed swordsmen. As always, it attracted mercenaries - from outside and inside the city. At least bloodshed was honest, they said. At least killers didn't make you pay for the privilege. At least the war was exciting - albeit briefly, for most such new warriors. Towns and quarters rifled their pockets or stripped their stores to hire protection. Most mercenary regiments were the regular rabble; broken-toothed drunkards and brutes who made their living by the halberd. Those from inside the City were commonly newly-minted mobs of angry inhabitants, driven as much by homelessness as idealism. Some came from abroad; exotic and storied regiments arrived at the Docks or the many City Gates to seek payment and adventure. Some had names were as old and famous as folk-tale; others were strange in their speech and their war-art.

For the best part of six months, the gathering fora and market squares were as likely to ring to the clash of polearms and halberds – and the occasional snap of timewornlaslocks or frag-bomb – as they were to the everyday squabbles and fistfights of daily life. After a few months or the war settled into a grumbling, smouldering state. The rattled populace become dulled, resigned to their new war-torn life. As with any other war, the people muttered in beer-halls and gathering places; as likely to cheer the Sun King's actions as bringing some excitement and change as they were to complain of shortages or brutality.

In truth, it almost seemed as though the Sun King was prolonging the conflict, gradually scouring different areas of the City - haphazardly, seemingly at random. The Sun King's soldiers did not question orders. Cepeheans were nothing if not obedient. Warehouses were emptied and burned to the ground, or weaponless villages turned over by artillery. No-one seemed to know why. 


+++

If this seemed strange, the seventh month saw the war become very unconventional indeed. The Sun King himself took to the streets. The people took notice – It was rare to see even a minor Welleborn touch the flagstones, and no-one could remember a Cyng fighting himself. It was something from myth, a fabulist's tale. 

His forces were equally wondrous. Some, of course, were the familiar pikemen and musket-troops, the same scabby dregs as the crowds but ruffed and feathered in imported silks and cottons. Others wore seemingly magical clothes; drab and pied, that made them seem to disappear in plain sight. Off-worlders, they bore strange guns that spat like laslocks, but over and again. Besides these were occasional stranger figures; oddly proportioned in swaddling robes.

His mercenaries were not spindle-limbed and ragged men forced to find new homes; nor even those same folk dressed in glittering brocade and gleaming new arms. His mercenaries did not come from the distant towns or other countries. They were not like other mercenaries. They bore strange weapons. They came from other worlds.

Some were stranger still. Some came from further than other worlds – some came from the very myths and legends of the Imperium at large.

Some were terrifying.
+++

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

+ inload: Vanya de la Oawadh +

+ The Foure of Cüppes +


That there is no inherent defence from vice in being born to the teeming crowds of humanity that makes up the workers and ratings and slaves of the Imperium. No, there is no romantic proof against evil in being born poor, beyond perhaps the simple inability to extend that nascent native wickedness beyond a small pool.

For those at the other end of the social scale; for those vested in authority, or granted power and stewardship over others? Well, power, as is well-known, corrupts. Not always. Not inevitably. On such shifting foundations of certainty, on the thin ice between the righteous and the abominable is the Inquisition itself founded. 

For many Inquisitors – for myself – a level of pragmatism is appropriate in the exercise of my power. Should an Inquisitor sanction a bread-thief? No; for any goodness in the apprehension and punishment is far outweighed by the time wasted in pursuing bigger game. 

Eheu temporaForget the insidious temptations of the archenemy or the wiles of xenos' it is time that is our greatest foe. However, practicalities stand: since we cannot excruciate the flow of reality, it falls to us to prosecute that within our grasp – the corruption of humanity itself – to the fullest of our ability. 

It is an aphorism: Send the keenest guards to watch the powerful.

Considerations, Vol IV. Unfortunus Veck

+++


'Only the insane have strength enough to prosper. Only those who prosper judge what is sane.
This could be the motto of the bloodthirsty de la Oawadh dynasty, a Welleborn family with roots stretching back centuries. 


Vanya de la Oawadh: Vidame of Yndbürch. Welleborn. Gadabout. Murderess.



A minor family; but one deeply entwined with the Throne of Cepheus. Vanya is of direct line – albeit nowhere near the heir apparent. As a result, the Materfamilias (for the de la Oawadh admit no man to have inherent authority over them) cares little for the Vidame's 'excursions'. Indeed, her murderous and petty proclivities – sadistic and violent – are glossed over as though a mere quirk.



Vanya runs with the street gangs of the Reddsmen's Quarter, suitably geographicly distant from her family's main assets – though she is no follower. Well-known and feared, she simply 'adopts' a gang as the whim takes her – inveigling her way in under a false pretence. Should a gangster recognise her; it is best he or she keeps their mouth sealed...


Augmented and enhanced, Vanya's whip-thin frame conceals horrifying strength and agility; and she is well-trained in the arts of fighting – and torture. Woe betide any who cross her.

+ inload: Scion of the Scarlet Blades +

+ The Scarlet Blades +


Sebastian Ottavus Arcimoboldo is a Space Marine of a dead Chapter. You can read about how he came to be in service to the Sun King here. [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]. +


+ He's a big chap – pictured here next to a regular-sized human, Sergeant Thorna Tempest (a Victoria Miniatures model [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]). While I've made lots of marines using this method, Arcimboldo is the first who's intended to be played alongside regular humans; which throws the size into perspective. You can see why fighting Astartes would be scary! +

+ Painting Arcimboldo +


+ Both a treat and a challenge to paint, it was wonderful to experiment with the freedom of making up my own Chapter scheme. When approaching something like this, I like to have a general visual in mind (in this case, orange armour with ivory lower legs) before I start, but to otherwise let things 'evolve' as I work. +


+ Why is this Scarlet Blade orange? Firstly, it's one of those rare colours that doesn't have an immediate association with any of the more familiar Chapters of GW's 'canon'. Secondly, it fit nicely with the warm Caravaggio-inspired palette of Venetian reds and yellows that I'm using for the broader project (the name of the marine's a nod to the Italian master). Taking a lesson from history helps a journeyman brush-jockeys like me! I'm no old master, but reading around and taking inspiration from historical artists is a great way to find a palette that works. Thirdly, I'm contrary. I didn't want to take the obvious route with the Chapter name and just to paint him red. I think orange suited well. +

+ With the colour scheme in mind, I primed him red, then set to with my old favourites, the GW Foundation range – Solar Macharius Orange for the majority of the armour; Dheneb Stone for the legs, head, candles and flames; and Charadron granite for everything else. I then set to working up the areas with highlight layers before washing in shading (using a mix of GW washes and W&N sepia ink). This went back-and-forth a bit as I refined and dirtied things to get a nice lived-in feel; then I used glazes of W&N scarlet and orange inks to build up the depth of colour on the orange. The result is (well, hopefully) a smouldery, believably martial orange. +


Making up a Chapter symbol can be a challenge – it needs to be iconic, so that it's visually understandable; but it also needs to be distinctive. The name of the Chapter – Scarlet Blade – obviously suggested a weapon of some sort, but I didn't want to be too obvious, so I went for a scimitar rather than a straight sword. This gives a less obviously European feel, which helps differentiate him from other Chapters, and also hints at a slightly piratical nature. +

+ I mentioned earlier that I didn't want to take the obvious route, but felt I had to include at least some red somewhere, so I opted to make the Chapter symbol scarlet. This wouldn't have read out against the orange of the armour, so I added a white shield behind the symbol. In addition to visually separating the red and orange, it also gives the Chapter symbol a bit more breadth and visual impact. +

+ Arcimboldo's divided loyalties – to his lost Chapter, and to the Sun King – are shown on his pauldron. In front of the pauldron is a tilt shield with a simplified mediaeval-style sun face. This marks him as part of the Sun King's coterie. (At least for the moment...) +



+ Making a 41st Millennium marine for a change (most of my Astartes are set in the far-off Heroic age of the Horus Heresy) was very enjoyable, as it let me create something with more extraneous detail for that gothic feel. In this case, a skull reliquary on the backpack, and a few relic bones (perhaps of a Chapter mate?) on his hip. Skulls don't always have to be bone-coloured, of course – I opted to paint the backpack one silver; as otherwise it wouldn't read out against the white candles. +

+ The candles were a bit of a pain. In an ideal world, I would have tweaked them so the flames were guttering directly upwards, or following the movement of the figure more closely. However, they're so fragile that I didn't want to risk snapping them off or heating them. Details like these are important – but equally, sometimes a compromise can prove better in the long run. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good! + 

+ Note that I could equally have painted the candles black, or another contrasting colour, should the hue of the skull have been critical to the background or scheme. The important thing is that areas are broken up visually – either by hue, tone or simple blacklining. This is sometimes a way to jog your imagination and come up with something more creative. +



+ The black purity seals are an example of a similar visually-led decision (so the cloth stood out against the ivory-coloured lower legs) that feeds back into the background: black purity seals seem a great mournful visual that hints to the viewer of sorrow and regret. +

+ The right-hand pauldron traditionally shows a Marine's battlefield role. What would the last member of a Chapter wear? He can't really be a Tactical marine or similar. I decided he'd create himself a symbol. Arcimboldo's motivation is his search for any other lost Scarlet Blades there may be out there, so I created a simple lighthouse symbol to represent this. The chequered row beneath it adds a visual flourish. Chequers don't have to be black-and-white. +


+ The sword +

+ A good example of frustration and challenge was the sword. As I say, I usually do 30k stuff, which is a bit more martial and grounded, so for this 41st Millennium marine I included some more gothic and fantastical elements like the flaming sword. It was such a cool bit that I added it to the build pretty much at the last minute. +



+ This WIP shot shows the figure with the early highlighting and preshading in place, but before the tone is developed further. The flames are far too close in colour to the armour, which I really wanted to be the focus. How the heck do you draw attention away from a [+SCRAPSHUNTERRORABORT+]ing big flaming sword? +


[APPEND] + As an aside, Some of the red primer is still visible on the base rim, too. It's an unusual primer for me, as I generally use grey; but I wanted to experiment with red to see if it would help bring some warmth. + [/END]


+ Answer one was to paint the sword in a contrasting hue to make it stand out. I use a variety of blended blues. While the result is interesting, I didn't like it for two reasons. Firstly, it drew too much attention from the orange and white armour and the figure in general. Secondly, the blue was completely alien to the palette of the figure and the broader project. +

+ Blue is a bit of a safe colour for me as it's easy to work with, and it's been a mainstay of my palette for years. The Court of the Sun King project is intended to be pushing my painting, so I couldn't really stick with this colour blade, even if it does look quite good in isolation. +



 + The next approach was a very light blade, painted using white and a touch of yellow. The problem with this one was similar – too eye-catching. In addition, it was very bright, which doesn't make sense in terms of the broader figure – the light source should be casting stronger shadows on the figure. +




 + The final colour was – drumroll please – a mid-toned scarlet. This is different enough that it stands out against the orange, dull enough that the ivory reads, and also fits with the broader palette. Even though the final result isn't fantastic, I'm glad I persevered. As long as the result is improved overall, even an imperfect finish can be chalked off as successful. This figure will stay as a reminder to plan things a bit better next time! +

+ Hope you've enjoyed some ramblings about my painting process. If you'd like to read some more about Little Orphan Arcimboldo, you can read Nightfall and the Candle, a short story [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] set many years before the events on Cepheus, which also involves a young Unfortunus Veck. +

Monday, October 24, 2016

+ inload: Magos Titus Manderghast +

+ Octavo d'Hands +


+ Extracted from Childeric's notes on Cepheus – Arrival Day +66; Feast-day of San Oltiman + 

+ The suit of Hands, of Second rank in the Cephean card deck, symbolises manual labour and integrity. Inverted, it symbolises indolence and intrigue. The suit corresponds equally to the material and immaterial (wrongfooting some scholars) as on Cepheus, logic and labour have always had associations with the dead. Ferlinghetti has suggested this may be a folk memory of the Tenth Legion Ishtarithough owing to the poor record-keeping of the Cepheans, this will likely always prove speculative. +



Perhaps none symbolise this duality; nor its religious connotations, more fittingly than my old associate, Titus Manderghast, of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Our flight from Purefinder Chaunterwickke – a nighttime flit I have no doubt our host was half-expecting, given her world-weary expression at our request for temporary lodging – has thrown my plans off-kilter. +

+ Perhaps worse, I now suspect that the Owlingmanne has a trail for us. While he has no jurisdiction over the affairs of the Inquisition, he could make things harder than they need be – particularly if he is in the employ of another party. There is something about this world that is peculiarly slippery. It is hard to make grip something that makes sense. +



We had been expecting the Magos to meet us clandestinely at the dockside inn with the sign of the ratfish; but he never showed. As a result, my small band – Ludi, Ferlinghetti and myself – find ourselves inside a wheel-cart driven by Northgrass, heading for the open waters. I must confess to finding the size of the City is bewildering. While I have seen larger settlements – the Suduko Hive on Exercitus is clearly both larger and more populous – there is something peculiar in the rambling overgrown streets of this vast and confusing place. No wonder water is such a scarcity; the hidden rivers must be barely fluid. +

+ I had expected the Widdershins docks to be no more than a day's journey, but with the War raging, Northgrass estimates it will take us more than a week. Even then, Ferlinghetti tells me that they do not mark the edge of the city. Instead, he tells me the city clambers down precipitous cliff-faces, the wooden and pottery structures clinging precipitously atop one another and over the open sea for many miles, like a bridge of blindants crossing a stream. +



+ I can only hope that Manderghast has the information I require. The last time we parted was on Braun VI; and even then he had become somewhat erratic. Doubtless his time spent on this benighted planet has done little to improve the balance of his humours. +

+ It has come to this then; travelling in a splintering coach over bone-shaking cobbles, with a thin supper of canned vardines and pity-seeds for our Saint Oltiman's feast. +



+ Painting Magos Titus Manderghast +

+ A very enjoyable figure to work on, Manderghast was a great chance to depict a side of the Adeptus Mechanicus that I've always liked. Essentially, low-level Magi are as ignorant as anyone else in the Dark Millennium, but bloody-minded enough to follow screeds of irrelevant doctrine and belief in the lares and penates of the 'Machine Spirits' that happen to contain a kernel of relevance – or to put it another way, they follow the holy writ of pulling the choke out just so, before pulling halfway back on the throttle, muttering 'come on come on come on' to yourself and then turning the key to get your car turning over. +

+ It's the same school of thought that pleading with your computer to start up more quickly, banging the side of the television to tune it, or closing and reopeing a program over and over again until it loads. It's mindless, repetitive and bears little relevance to what's actually wrong – and it's perfect for the black humour of lost knowledge in the 41st Millennium. +



+ I wanted the robe to look rust-red, a combination of labcoat, engineer's overalls and priestly vestements. The paint scheme is very limited: orange, yellow, black and white; with a hint of purple and metal. I really, really enjoyed working up the reds and oranges with washes and inks and layers... Great fun; and I'm looking forward to giving the same colours a go on Manderghast's underlings. +



+ This shot is pre-basing; I rarely make major adjustments after this point, but commonly add a little freehand before I declare it absolutely finished. In this case, I added a little red capital to the text on his scanner screen (in his left hand) and a red stripe on the circular badge on his forehead. + 



+ It's surprising what a difference the grass tufts and drybrushing on the base make to the overall finish – and they took no more than thirty seconds. +

+ To bang on a bit about him, I think I'm most pleased with the decision to give him blonde hair. It's very easy to make members of the Adeptus Mechanicus look entirely robotic, or use too much near sci-fi in their look. To me, they should look as much like mediaeval priests as cyborgs. +

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

+ inload: Revelations +

+ King of Suns +


+ or, Whatever happened to the Sun King? +

Much, much later; Master Inquisitor Veck leads his band on Grovsenor II.

+ Enthusiasm for projects naturally ebbs and flows, and circumstances can make it difficult or impossible to work on something, then allow for a window of frenzied attention. +

+ Such is the case with the Court of the Sun King, a project very close to my ticking mechanical heart, as it contains my blog's titular Rubricist – otherwise known as Childeric – as well as another character that I've been mulling over for more than a decade; Sciriusc the Sunne Cyng himself – although much like the Rubricist, that's not the only name he goes by... +

+ The project stalled somewhat when, having built the model (below) and cranked up to a 'big reveal' of the Sun King, Games Workshop released Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, and rather stole the thunder of the imagery :D +

+ So, here's the Sun King – I hope he's not a disappointment! +

Sciriusc the Sunne Cyng, in all his glory
+ This – fairly understandably, I think – took the wind from my sails somewhat; which is much of the reason for the long delay in the project. However, with the benefit of a few months' breathing space, I think I'm reconciled to the Sun King model now. On a second look, I think he's got enough about him that stands on his own merits; so with a little more work, he'll be ready to get involved in putting his plans into action. +

+ Needless to say, Childeric had better watch his step. On a feudal world where a lasrifle would raise stares of wonderment amongst the population, the Sun King has some very powerful friends... +


+++

+ Aims of the project +

+ One of the core things that I wanted to do with this project is to look at an unremarkable world of the Imperium. I think all planets have their distinctive character and culture; but they tend to play second fiddle to great events beyond their borders. Cepheus has millennia of history, diversity of population and lots of interesting things that I want to hold a mirror up to through the Rubricist. For this reason, I'm determined to keep things fairly low-key. +

+ For this reason, You're more likely to see flintlocks and swords than conversion beamers; and skirmishes than armies. I want to make the scale more intimate; so that readers and players (I encourage you get involved in the events, by the way) don't expect mighty heroes and powerful monsters, but rather terrified militia and weakling scribes nevertheless doing the work of the Emperor, unsung and unremembered. To me, the actions and resistance of the weak are more interesting for their very lack of power against the swarming, oppressive, maddening atmosphere of the 41st Millennium. +

+ So why the devil have I introduced Astartes? Of all the overplayed elements of the 41st Millennium, the Space Marines have got to be the apex. I can give just three reasons. The first is fairly throwaway – I simply like making up Astartes; they give the project a hook for a lot of people that wouldn't otherwise be interested in the small grubby backwater of Cepheus and the City. Even then, these won't be storied Chapters of Legend; these will be the Astartes equivalents of the rest of the cast – unknown, untested. Look for some stories of the Stellar Steeds and the Chapter Castellan, along with the last scion of the Scarlet Blades. +

+ The second is contrast. As with painting, as with writing; there's nothing that makes a hero feel heroic than some genuinely dangerous enemies – and it's looking like the Sun King's gang – the Walker Boliti, the Scion of the Scarlet Blades, his as yet-unnamed Scyld guard, the Indocksman and the Owlingmanne to name just a few – are more than a match for a middle-aged Inquisitor and his pals. +

+ Finally, the twist. The plan is for events to ramp up somewhat; and hopefully you'll come along with my story to see why a few choice Astartes will prove utterly necessary... +

+ What's going on on Cepheus? +

If you are new to the project, and don't fancy going back through everything, here's a summary to bring you up to speed. We know the following:


  • A stranger has arrived on the planet Cepheus, a chilly backwater Feudal-class planet. He has seized the role and office of the Imperial Commander – here known as the 'Sun King'. 
  • A civil war has erupted in the City; a vast and grubby urban wasteland. Regiments of ill-disciplined and scruffy soldiery, loyal to the various 'Welltheyareborne' aristocratic families, are fighting, looting and burning each others' territories.
  • After a few brief weeks, the Sun King closed off the space port, leaving no official route to the planet.
  • The Rubricist, Childeric - or rather, Inquisitor Unfortunus Veck - has arrived clandestinely, just before the port's closure. He is now trapped without hope of reinforcement – except for those few allies he sent ahead of him; or can cultivate on Cepheus itself. 
  • Childeric is attempting to make contact with Magos Manderghast, an old ally who he feels sure has information on the Sun King's true nature.
  • The Sun King has rallied his forces, and with the City in disarray, is planning the first moves in his ultimate - and heretofore inscrutable - goals...

+ inload: Sebastian Ottavus Arcimboldo, Scion of the Scarlet Blades +

+ inload: In the Coürt of the Sunñe Cyng +


+ The four advanced down the hall under Boliti's watchful, hidden gaze. Thrown by wall-mounted sconces that bled as much smoke as light, the illumination was patchy. More than half of the torches were unlit – either a cost-saving measure, a sop to the effects of the months-long War, or perhaps simply the sconce's absence through time and lack of maintenance. If it bothered any of the four, they gave no sign. Their pace was purposeful, if not particularly hurried. Like the Sun King himself, it seemed to Boliti as though the four were deliberately repressing a more martial air. +

+ A gaggle of nervous servants came trailing a respectful distance behind and the Watcher shook his head, as though mazed. The Sun King was the smallest of the group of four by a large margin; but the appearance of the servants in the cone of ruddy light threw everything into perspective. Conjured partly by the hallway – immense, mouldering and dust-caked – but mostly by the colourful figures at its heart, the illusion now seemed obvious. +

+ The Sun King was undoubtedly large and heavy-set, of a demeanour as confident and languid as a Prime Felid. Besides his charisma and his gold-chased armour, he was physically impressive. Boliti's experienced gaze knew him to be gene-bulked; enhanced. Next to the others, however, he appeared like a stripling; a doll. +


+ 'They do not call you Brother.' The Sun King's voice was commanding, easily projecting up the hallway to Boliti's ears. Without missing a beat, the figure nodded, his face steeped in shadow as the four met an area of still, damp, darkness. 

'There were only six others.' This voice was sonorous, deep, and tinged with an emotion Boliti struggled to place. 'I am the last. It is a mark of respect that your Scylds do not address me as such.' He paused. 

The Sun King's reply was simple. 'That is a part-truth.' He kept his gaze fixed firmly ahead, but Boliti could see that the shadowy figure had twitched. Anger? Uncertainty? 'They refrain from calling you Brother because they see you as ill-omened.'  +


+ The humming of their powered armour was becoming obvious to Boliti as they approached the cubby in which he was ensconsed, and so he could hear the momentary hesitation of the other two; even if they showed no visible break in movement. The first warrior's reply was terse; badly-hidden anger kept repressed. 

'That may be so.' The group continued. If the Sun King was aware of any tenseness, he made no sign. If anything, his walk seemed to gain a slightly jovial step. 

'An orphan, then.' The figure bristled. 'Hmm. It seems to me that I have met many orphans in my time. On Cambylon. On the fifth world of Melissa. On Veet Ling. I seem to attract them.' +


+ All of a sudden, less than a dozen yards from Boliti, the Sun King drew to a halt. The three warriors, and the servants behind, stopped a moment later. The three Astartes – for now there was no mistaking their nature – turned to the Sun King. The warrior removed his orange-and-white helm. His skin was deeply tanned, his hair close-cropped. The Sun King looked at him, his mask – as always –impassive. +

+ 'You came to me pursuing the trail of your last brother, Sebastian.' All of a sudden, the Sun King's voice was comradely; sympathetic but uncondescending. 'I regret that you found him dead.' Boliti had experienced a lifetime of false sympathy. He detected none in the Sun King's voice or manner. 'I make you this promise, Sebastian Ottavus Arcimboldo. If you will help me cleanse this world of its vicious infection, I will turn the strength of three worlds to tracking down word of the Scarlet Blades. I will find any of your brethren that remain; and if I cannot, then I will name you brother myself.' He reached out, unflinchingly, and placed a hand on the Space Marine's arm. There was a disarming sincerity to the Sun King, quite at odds to his station. 

+ Given their shared history, Boliti recognised the effect the Sun King's words – almost childlike in its optimism and zeal – were having. Arcimboldo gave no immediate reply; but simply dipped his head. His face became cloaked in shadow for a moment. At length, he looked up. 
'I pledge my oath, then, before those here present. I will be the tool of mankind; no more. With faith in the God-Emperor and my King; I pledge that I will not be the last Scion of the Scarlet Blades.' +

+ 'Direct me.' +

Thursday, October 13, 2016

+ inload; Iron Warrior Basilikoi +

+ inload: Black-hearted bastards of the Basilikoi +



An old rogue makes the best watchman.
+ Proverb, archaic. Provenance unknown.

+ The Basilikoi Lodges were not organised into Musters, as were the rest of the Great Company, but rather were set as overseers to monitor the other Musters, giving rise to their alternative High Gothic title, Invigilati. Needless to say, this did nothing to dispel the Iron Warriors' reputation as paranoiac obsessives. +

+ While this reputation had some basis in fact – certainly towards the later years of the Horus Heresy, as Perturabo's humours became increasingly mercurial – the original purpose of Invigilation had a very worthwhile origin as an effective safety valve for the Musters. +

+ As with all groups of fighting men, their sense of competition – mostly positive and outwardly directed – often led to friction and occasionally threatened to erupt into violence. The stand-offish nature that most of the IVth's legionaries cultivated in imitation of their master meant that these bursts of violence were more unexpected and lethal than in the other Legions; who often had ritualised methods of dispersing such tension – the honour duels of the Imperial Fists and Emperor's Children, or the fighting pits of the Luna Wolves and World Eaters. +


+ The deputisation of the Basilikoi to moderate and identify such brewing confliict, was thus both a useful method of ensuring the Musters remained positively competitive, and a sign of the web of control Perturabo held over his legion. +

+ Their blank honour masks; fitted in imitation of the Legion's symbol, was intended as a brooding reminder of the subsumation of personal ambition to the greater whole. Eventually, however, such an outlet proved insufficient to the task. Even by the latter years of the Great Crusade, the Invigilati commonly saw themselves as elevated above the common Musters and began to order them about on an unofficial level, in direct opposition to their original purpose. +

+ Doubtless Perturabo must have been aware of the subtle politicking emerging amongst his Legion's elite after the Warmaster's betrayal – indeed, it seems impossible that none of the Basilikoi themselves could resist turning informer in the hope of currying favour at the highest level – but he certainly acted as a neutral party; perhaps secretly pleased; perhaps appalled. +



+ By the time of the Siege of Terra, many Basilikoi – particularly those still garrisoning distant worlds, had all but enslaved the Musters and Militia under their command, forming the kernels of marauding warbands, some of which went on to plague the Imperium during the Great Scouring and beyond. 
+++
...and what of the Officia Monstrosa? A number of Basilikoi were sighted with this force during the siege, operating with all the professionalism, duty and heroism one might expect of the most virtuous Ultramarine or Blood Angel. This is a mournful reminder that while the Legions who followed the Warmaster proved rotten at the core, their treachery was committed by their leaders. The Legionaries who followed them are now lost to the Imperium forever, but few were initially evil – merely dutiful.
More troublingly, it is a sobering reminder that if such exemplars as the Basilikoi could fall, we can be certain of no Legion at all...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

+ Painting Word Bearers part II +

+ Painting the Blasted Cedar (cont.) +

+ This is the second part of a tutorial on painting Word Bearers. The first part is in an earlier inload [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] +

_v: Dilute Liche Purple heavily using flow enhancer, then paint it on like a wash, working it into the recesses. While it remains wet, clean and dry your brush and lift it off raised areas, leaving it visible in the recesses and shaded areas.

_vi: Mix Vallejo Scarlet and Vallejo White to make a pink mix, and highlights the edges of the plates that are facing the light source (i.e. upwards). 



_vii: Work Ogryn Flesh into the recesses only, wiping away any excess from flat plates.


_viii: Make a dark mix of Boltgun metal with a little sepia ink and silver ink added. Use this to pick out any metallic areas such as the shoudler trim, backpack and boltgun details.


_ix: Glaze the red armour evenly using Bloodletter glaze. Lay it on thinly; you don't want it to pool.

_x: Once dry, repeat two or three times – this will gradually strengthen the hue without obscuring your highlights, so the more layers you do, the better. (Note how the pinkness of the highlights in step _vi are enriched and become red.)


_xi: Reinstate the finest highlights with a lighter mix (i.e. more white) of Vallejo Scarlet and Vallejo White). These will look pink again, but don't panic – another layer or two of Bloodletter glaze will bring them back to a brooding, rich red.


_xii: Alternatively, you can use red ink, which will give a slightly glossy finish, to knock the pinkness back. I used Winsor & Newton Vermilion ink.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

+ inload: Brotherhood of the Lost II – Iron Bear +

+ inload: Warpathman Dohmnall Sakima of the Iron Bears +



+ As outlined in an earlier inload [+noospheric onlioadlink embedded+], the Bolter & Chainsword has a group that is developing an alternative universe Horus Heresy-style rebellion, called the Icarion Insurrection. This is the second marine I've built for the project – the first can be seen here [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+].  +

+ The poster Chief Captain Redd came up with the Iron Bears, and they're a complex Legion; blending a number of influences. +

+ The Iron Bears +

Numeration: The VIth Legion 
Primogenitor: Daer'dd Niimkiika
Cognomen (Prior): The Sixth, The Giants 
Allegiance: Fidelitas Totalis  
Where Space Marines stand tall, the Iron Bears stand taller. A byproduct of their gene-seed, along with their lengthened implantation process, the Iron Bears are transformed into giants always standing twenty to thirty centimetre higher than their cousins, their physical statures enhanced by their good-natured bravado. A legion of mechanics, the Iron Bears are infamous for their habit of tinkering with their war machines, adding new or unusual features to their mechanical beasts. 
Together, the Iron Bears and their oversized fleet of heavy tanks, form a steel tide that washes over their enemies. Daer'dd, tallest of the Primarchs, leads the legion with his arsenal of warhawks, a figure larger than life on and off the battlefield. In the end, the Iron Bears will be tested to the limit by the tragedy of the Insurrection, as they will suffer one of the greatest losses a legion can suffer.

+ Theoretical +

+ As with the Grave Stalker Legionary made for the same project, I wanted to make sure the figure reflected the background fairly. On the face of things, it'd be easy to see the Iron Bears as a sort of Space Wolves/Iron Hands mish-mash, but the Legion draws as much from Native American (specifically the Ojibwa people) and Celtic societies as it does from Norse. +

+ With such a rich range of areas to draw from, it's easy for a figure to become over-complicated or too busy, and not work as a finished piece. He also had to read as a 'Space Marine', so I didn't want to cover him in bits and bobs. By keeping the silhouette clean, he doesn't read as an odd-coloured Space Wolf. +


+ In terms of modelling, I went for a bare head with a neat beard (the plastic power armoured Librarian) then sculpted on some short hair. This gave the figure a slightly Nordic feel without stepping on Space Wolf imagery. I played around with this by using a relatively dark skintone and dark hair; which gave a good background for some warpaint. + 

+ Note also the dags on the shoulder trim and knife sheath, and the chevrons on the bolt pistol. I introduced copper green to the overwhelmingly metallic palette in order to bring a cool contrasting hue, and used terracotta as a toning colour on the casings. This kept the palette warm – which naturally makes the figure read as energetic and inviting; characteristics which fit with the genial peacetime nature of the Legion. +


+ Armament is a good way to introduce character; and 'power tomahawks' are mentioned in the background. I couldn't resist adding one, using the Justaerin weapon pack. This shot also details the Legion and Clan symbol – a bear's paw (top) surmounting a stylised deer's head. +


+ The dags continue on the pouches, and the faceplate of his belted helm is also terracotta. Note the red-washed runic inlay on the forearm; I thought this was a nice chance to add another flash of colour. +


+ The Legion symbol is repeated on the left shoulder, on a broad white stripe. This shot also shows the warpaint on his face; another distinctive touch that was a [SCRAPSHUNTERRORABORT] to paint. Fun, but it was a pain to balance it against the bearded head. If I were to do another, I think I'd go for stronger colours (yellow and red, perhaps?) but use a cleanshaven and bald or topknotted head to give the greatest area to paint. +


+ Perhaps the most challenging part of the conversion was getting the Bear's stature. They're described as larger than typical Astartes, so in addition to some extra height introduced to the legs and waist, I bulked out the torso more than usual. This shot shows him next to the Grave Stalker – no titch himself, the Iron Bear still looms over him. +