+ conceptinload: Iron Sleet Invitational +

+ Iron Sleet Invitational II – The Thorne Moons +

+ The chaps over at the ever-inspirational Iron Sleet [+noospheric inloadlinkembedded+] have thrown open their region of space for other blogstronauts to explore. Their evocative setting is the Thorn Moons [+noospheric inloadlinkembedded+], which they summarise as 
[T]he Thorn Moons are a secluded region in the Crataegus Fragmentum, an area that has been cut off from the Imperium of Man for ten millen[n]ia. A route from Terra was only recently discovered, and still passage is uncertain and can take anywhere from a few months to decades. The Moons themselves are a cluster of over a hundred astronomical bodies, orbiting an incalculable center of gravity. Whatever caused the Thorn Moons to be rediscovered now, can only be guessed at.
+ More information on the Invitational can be found here [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+], but suffice to say that entrants have been asked to:
Study humanity in the eternal war – the imperial guard and its many regiments sent to bring the moons to compliance, their rogue brethren set to burn all, the Thorn Moons twists in their corrupted millions and Green Mechanicvm and their planetary defense skitarii in desperate defense of their realms, the human foot soldiers of the inquisition in their esoteric glory… 
Build and paint five human sized models that beautifully and fittingly describe the humble human in the galactic war and show of your original ideas and understanding of the Warhammer 40000 universe.

+++

+ Acedia Desmesnes +

+ Those of you familiar with my take on 40k will know that I'm a big fan of the Imperial Guard as they best sum up the 'pathetic aesthetic' of the universe – that is; imagery that champions 'making do with what is' and the abandonment of ambition and idealism in favour of pragmatism and resignation.  It's a concept that runs right through 40k – best summed up in the thought for the day: for every battle honour, a thousand heroes die alone, unsung and unrememebered. +

There's a rather good thoughtpiece from the LA Times here [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] that does a good job of summarising the concepts behind the pathetic aesthetic; but suffice to say that what we're doing here is looking at all the little people who pop up in the background of artworks – the thousand souls that provide the contrast for the heroic Space Marines and puissant monsters of the universe. +

+ So, with this in mind, I got my conceptulising-cogs a-whirring. I'v always liked the sheer variety of the guard, and a PCRC campaign of a year or so ago saw me make a few one-off models to represent the many regiments of the Antona Australis [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] sector:

Metis Light Foot infantryman

Lieutenant of the Aldebaran Regiments

Blenheim 2nd Expeditionary


Throngsman of Biffi-Clylon

Lamb's Worlder

Selenian Outernaut

 The underlying idea of this was similar (though less ambitious!) in some ways to the Invitational; though the examples I've posted above are more conservative in style than what I imagine will turn up through in the Thorn Moons. This is lucky for me, as I've been starting to explore the more grotesque possibilities of 40k through Court of the Sun King [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+], and being able to combine the two in one small project seems like a great opportunity. +

+ Theoretical: Starting points +

+ I like to start by putting a few parameters in place for myself. The Invitational is pleasingly open, and I find that can lead to moving away from actually 'answering the question'. So, while I haven't given myself hard limits, I have looked at a few loose boundaries to help give me a focus:
  • Human
  • Pathetic aesthetic
  • Underdogs
  • Fitting for the Thorn Moons
  • Story is King – a guideline from Iron Sleet itself
+ From reading around the Invitational, I saw three main possibilities – a group from the Thorn Moons themselves, a group from the invading Imperial Guard, or a group of Inquisitorial troopers. All would have to be human – though defining that concept in 40k is itself a very broad canvas! +

+ I suspect that the defenders of the Thorn Moons will see a lot of wildly creative and inventive pieces; as will the Inquisitorial forces. Sticking with my boundaries, then, I want to see what I can do with the most 'normal' option – the Imperial Guard invaders; as I think these will be the least popular option, and I've always liked the underdog. +

+ Of course, in 40k terms, normal isn't shorthand for being unambitious; nor does it translate to 'vaguely sci-fi soldiers'. In an Imperium of a million worlds and billions of military traditions – some of which have evolved and developed for ten thousand years – there is no such thing as a default for the Imperial Guard. +

+ Theoretical: Na Phom +


+ One thing I've never tried with my Guardsmen is a swamp style of warfare; but it's one I've flirted with over the years – Cambylon and Veet Ling; planets involved in the Court of the Sun King project, were to involve swamp-fighters. This seems a great chance to scratch the itch. +

+ What would a force sent to fight on the Thorn Moons be like? The sense of cyclical creation and decay is an important theme for the region – I get the sense of a warm, roiling, turbulent and vivacious sector; so it seems fitting for the invaders to represent the opposite – a cold, frigid, reactionary and dependable counterpoint. That seems to fit with the existing narrative – Space Wolves and their allies fit that description to a tee. +

+ So, to fit those concepts together, I've created the Nor of Na Phom; a warrior-caste from a culture of stultifying, oppressive resistance to change. Their world is mostly covered with foetid swampland and open moors, full of corruption and disease. In order to survive, the settlers – far back in the depths of history – turned to malchemistry and gene-manipulation, forcibly carving out great chunks of their own DNA in order to create a specialised – in their view – 'perfected' human stock, highly resistant to mutation, and illness. +

+ Of course, this being the Dark Millennium, I can't simply let them be superhumans. The fallout of such alterations were simple – by removing ingress for disease, the Na Phom condemned themselves to an eternity of changelessness and facelessness. While not strictly clones, the DNA of the populace is so restricted and limited that most look alike. The world suffers from genetic instability and low birth viability, and is harshly divided into a caste system, maintained to keep the limited breeding pool genestock divided and thus partially viable. +

+ Secondly, while the humans were able to save themselves, their livestock were not so lucky. As domesticated animals failed to adapt, and limited understanding prevented the populace from adapting them, one group of animals after another fell extinct. During the Dark Age of Technology, therefore, the missing animal groups were hardbred from humans; creating variant morphs to fill various roles. +

+ Being naturally resistant to swamp-borne illnesses, and close enough in genetic stock to enable retrovirals to be rapidly synthetised, the Nor Na Phom made an obvious choice to accompany the expeditionary fleet to the roiling worlds of the Thorn Moons. +

+ Practical: The Nor of Na Phom +

+ My group, then, is going to consist of one Martinet (an individual with breeding rights), three Gelds (the regular infantry) and a Unman (a steed). I hope to have some time to work on them tonight, so hopefully a pic-inload in the morning. +

+ inload: The Sleep of Reason – first Night Lords Claw

+ The Sleep of Reason +


Commissioned as another Shadow War: Armageddon team, I had a lot of freedom in design and layout, which I always appreciate. A very enjoyable challenge, this mini-project had me diving into the Night Lords, a Legion that I've never really looked at in much detail. I've aimed to give each of the models a sense of individuality but keep a sense of ochesion – the VIIIth might owe as much to gang culture as modern military concepts, but I wanted to be sure they all remained immediately identifiable as Night Lords, with the individual character coming out through a closer look. 

To do this, then, I scribbled down a few key concepts that made me think of Night Lords – judgement, horror, and so forth – and then built models using those concepts as touchstones. I wanted to nod to the classic bat-helms and similar terror markings, but to rein them in and make them a little more practical. You'll spot that one of the group has some budding wing/horns on his helm, picked out in a muted red. Another has a trophy rack that gives him a bat-winged silhouette, but leaves his helm free. Similarly, the terror markings appear on all of them, but vary. Rather than painted masks, the markings are either sculpted armour – ribs on Fidanza, a custom helm on Avellon – and lots and lots of severed body parts, from ears to feet, strewn over the figures.

Aaron Dembski-Bowden's influence is, predictably, not far from the surface. I enjoyed the adventures of Talos and First Claw so much, but I I felt it would be a better homage – and more personal to the commission – if I used the concepts behind his characters as a springboard to develop a group of my own. The concept of the red hands of censure was a real temptation, for example, but I decided to riff on the idea of gang status it suggests and instead run with honorific skinning knives, which appear on every figure. Thanks for the inspiration, A D-B! Hope you approve.

I hope the owner is very happy with them; I certainly am.

+ 'Kivigilitha Ve Zah Jass.' +


+ With few of the trappings and advanced equipment of their loyalist brethren, experience and a willingness to use scavenged armour and weaponry makes this group of Night Lords – a warband styling itself The Sleep of Reason – as versatile and deadly at the end of a long campaign as at the beginning. +

+ The four collected here operate as a squad or 'Claw'; and are unified by shared aims – symbolised by the poison daggers they wear as a crude gang-sign – and, perhaps, by fragmented recollections of a lost dream that they bitterly wish to spoil for those 'still sleeping'. +

+ Their battlecry – or perhaps more accurately, the last phrase whispered to their victims – is Kivigilitha Ve Zah Jass – which loosely translates to 'We bring A Rude Awakening'. +



+ Shullat Avellon (judgement) +


 + Representing what remains of the VIIIth Legion's original aims, Avellon acts as the unifying figure of the group. Through dominance and tactical ability, he is begrudgingly regarded as – if not the leader, for the warband bristles as such terms for all save their warlord – at least first-amongst-equals. Perhaps more importantly to the Claw, he is a neutral party, whose decisions ensure the others can indulge their predilictions. +

Gaining the lion's share of the spoils of war, his armour is good quality, largely (thought not wholly) unmarked by the taint of chaos. He bears echos of the trappings of rank – a trophy rack in place of a banner, a defiled tilt shield from a defeated enemy (or rival), and an artificer-modified terror helm. Despite his status, the collar of his breastplate is raised – all the better to ward off a blade at the neck. +


+++

+ Creo Fidanza (arrogance)+


+ Such is Fidanza's belief in the inherent superiority of the Astartes that his fighting style is swaggering and ostentatious; deliberately alerting the enemy once there is no escape for them. After all, the prey should spend their last moments in fear, not ignorance. +


His armour, a well-maintained hybrid of mark IV and scavenged mark VII plates, is thus embellished and decorated with ritual terror markings; not least of which are his flamboyant trophy racks, which cast an inhumanly long, bat-eared silhouette. +



+++

Isimud Vologda (horror)


 + Colossal, debilitating, overwhelming horror is the Night Lords' modus operandi. For some, it was less a strategy and more an art to be savoured. For Vologda, it became an obsession. +

 + Tactical expediency and teamwork simply does not factor into his crystally straightforward mind; merely the act of spreading individual terror. Draped in skins and pelts, covered with chains and trophies, Vologda's method of waging war is plain and simple; and always, always, secondary to his true aim – sadistic, systematic and excruciating murder. +

With a talent for infiltration and stealth, he usually operates at the forefront of the team – all the better to scatter and unnerve the defenders for the others to terrorise; and all the less likely that his individualism will compromise the team. +


+++

+ Basmu Seachild (dishonourable conduct) +


+ The only non-Nostraman of the group, face-to-face conflict is anathema to Basmu Seachild, recruited to the Claw many centuries after the Legion Wars. Why confront the enemy head-on when you can finish them before they know there's a threat? A creeping, lurking and knife-strewn monster in the dark is how Seachild prefers to operate; his movements sinuous, coiling, and silent. +

Barring a Mark IV helm; only now beginning to warp under the influence of his incipient voidcraft, he wears a relatively crude suit of Mark V armour – the best he can hope for as the junior member of the team. +




+++


+ inload: #PolyphyRises – Ecce +

+ An invitation +

+ You may have noticed that the top bar of this blog is getting increasingly crowded. Recently I have added an invitation to join in with the Court of the Sun King by populating Cepheus. Have a look, and if you'd like to join in, I'd be delighted. +

If you're on mobile, there'll be a little button at the top right to click to move away from the Active Feed and find the project tabs, but if it's playing up, try this [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] to take you right to the heart of the action. 

+ I'll be adding a few prompts or kicking-off points every so often, but do feel free to do what you want to on the backwater world. +

+ The first of these loose ideas is as follows:


A handful of Sky

All of the figures in my project are identified by card in a mythical traditional Cephean deck; the suits of which are Beasts, Cups, Collars, Hands and Suns. Roll a D6 to discover the suit.

Suit
  • 1 Cups – symbolising enjoyment, civilisation, comfort.
  • 2 Suns – symbolising glory, life/death, royalty.
  • 3 Hands – symbolising manual labour, intrigue, integrity.
  • 4 Beasts – symbolising nature, horror, fruitfulness.
  • 5 Collars – symbolising acceptance, resignation, clarity of sight.
  • 6 Tarot – a unique creation.
Next, roll a D20 to find a number. Numbers above 10 are face cards – above 14 and the suit becomes inverted: start counting back down – sixteen is thus the Queen inverted. Inverted suits begin to represent the inversion of their symbols. Inverted hands, for example, symbolise corruption, idleness and polemicism.
+ Feel free to use this or ignore it for your first Cephean figure(s). +

+ If you'd like to use a hashtag, try #PolyphyRises to tie back in. +

+++

+ Ecce: the Sun King's coterie +


+ A (long-delayed) continuation of an inload covering the WIP stages of the figures [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+], the Eight of Clubs and Four of Suns mark another two members of the Sun King's own group, Ecce. Dernledger (the regular human) is the finished version of a concept mooted in the very first inload of this blog [+noospheric inloadlibnk embedded+]. He represents the Soldier archetype detailed there. Along with the Rubricist and the Autoscribe, that's three of the figures completed... +

+ I don't think the final paintwork is my best work, but sometimes it's better to leave things as they are and move on. In the grand scheme of things, I think they're perfectly acceptable, and have a little robust charm. +


+ What I am pleased with is that Dernledger seems to have captured the spirit of the Court of the Sun King project. Ruffed and uniformed, he's also dirty, desperate and slightly lost-looking. +



+ Threack is similarly brutally opulent – mostly due to the gloriously baroque sculpting of Bob Olley. His sculpts are always a pleasure to paint, rewarding a wandering and playful painting style. +



+ A hint of Adam Ant, Bladerunner and Sláine pops up with the addition of facial paint. Freehand details like this can suggest the wearer's culture – Threack might be dressed up like a fourpenny rabbit, but his tattoos and choice of weapon are facets of his own upbringing. Stuff like this helps me feel the figures – however minor to the story – have their own part to play, and often lead down a rabbit-hole of inspiration. +

+ The Sun King's sigil – a blazing, rising sun – is also marked on the new figures. Both the sigil and the warpaint are motifs that have popped up on other members (known or unwitting) of Ecce:


Two of Beasts: Thorna Tempest [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]
Four of Cups: Vanya de la Oawadh [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]


King of Collars: Sebastian Ottavus Arcimboldo [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]


+++



+ inload: Sephran Mawl – villainy in the 41st Millennium +

+ The Sünñe Çyng +



+ Every good hero needs a good villain, and Unfortunus Veck's nemesis is (in my opinion at least) the most compelling character I've ever been able to come up with. +

+ He's serves as a mirror to Unfortunus Veck himself [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]; but as Inquisitors aren't exactly shining paladins of light, his nemesis is equally a rather ambiguous and mercurial character. +

+ Polyphy. Sciriusc. Sephran Mawl. + 

+ Sephran Mawl popped up way back in 2008 [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] as a mention in the PCRC's Mellissan Secession campaign. The campaign itself fizzled, but the idea of a beloved and heroic general starting to disobey orders in order to wage a more efficient, pragmatic war; and one less costly in terms of his soldiers' lives, got my mind turning over. +

+ Over time, Sephran Mawl began to develop into a character who would do anything to advance human influence from the Sector (and, in theory, the galaxy); with little respect or recourse for the demands or traditions of the Imperium – not a renegade so much as simply bypassing the usual channels. Such a character is not unusual, even in 40k, but Mawl is not merely a rebel; he is, in terms of the Sector, a visionary. +

+ At root, Sephran Mawl is a great believer in humanity. In many settings, he'd be the hero. He invigorates and encourages his followers, believes in defending the weak, and has a charismatic and compelling personality. Pragmatic enough to disobey orders and wily enough to avoid sanction, he is capable, energetic, resourceful and charming. Sephran Mawl has, over the course of a decade, managed to rally the resources of three planets (Veet Ling and Camyblon in the Cambyses system [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+], and Cepheus in Port Cassian [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]) and extended his influence over countless more. +

+ However, he is also a high-functioning psychopath; owing as much to Colonel Kurtz and Hannibal Lecter as to Alexander the Great and the Emperor Constantine. He is both willing and capable of infiltrating and manipulating those around him in order to advance his cause, and – if he believes the sacrifice is worth it – is more than willing to commit genocide; as witnessed on the atomic wastelands of Cambylon and the events on Cepheus [+exloadref: Court of the Sun King++

+ Even within the Warhammer 40,000 universe, he's very much the sort of chap who ends up in the Inquisition. His philosophies – of a manifest human destiny and the supremacy of man – tally closely to the Monodominants, and his methods are much the same as the Recongregators. +


+ So why is Unfortunus Veck after him? +

+ Sephran Mawl and Unfortunus Veck represent what I consider the two options for humanity in the Warhammer mythos. Veck symbolises authority. Oppressive and watchful, his galaxy would see absolute control (and safety) at the expense of humanity's creative urges and spiritual potential. On the flip side, Mawl represents freedom – the opportunity to pursue your own destiny and right to privacy; though not without danger. +

+ In short, they represent authoritarianism against liberalism; fear against hope; worldliness against naivety; cynicism against romanticism; and, ultimately, law against chaos. That's got obvious connotations in the 40k universe, but I wanted Mawl to be more than just a caricatured megalomaniac, pursuing pure power for selfish means. The moral grey areas of the Inquisition are far more interesting to me, as they let us explore real-world considerations of right and wrong, how opposing philosophies can both have appealing and repulsive aspects; and how appealing or trusted ideas can be revealed to have unintended consequences. +

+ This is all quite heavy for a game of toy soldiers, but I hope that when you read the Court of the Sun King, on some issues you will side with Veck, on others with Mawl. They're not intended as goodies and baddies; except in concert with each other. Both would be horrendous monsters in the real world, but when you see what Papakakek Pemeras (remember that name!) is bringing to Cepheus, you might see why they have to make tough choices! +

+ My intention is for the project to explore Veck and Mawl's relationship, not to follow either character arc to completion – the end result of that is Mawl discovering the Fell Powers (like most inhabitants of the Imperium, he's largely unaware of them) and either becoming a spawn or daemon prince; while Veck either succeeds in apprehending Mawl or dies. For me, it's far more interesting to have them dance within the moral grey area than to give a neat answer. +

+++

+ Making the model +

+ I rather had the wind knocked out of me with Sephran Mawl's model. I'd spent ages planning and creating Sciriusc the Sun King (that is, a pseudonym for Sephran Mawl in his augmetic heirloom power armour) only for Games Workshop to reveal the Stormcast Eternals the following month. The enormous plate-armoured figures with impassive masks just made Mawl – who I think was quite an interesting and distinctive model – look derivative. + 

+ With a year or two having passed by, I've come back around to him. Sure, he's no longer as striking and impressive as I felt he was when I made him, but he's a solid model, nonetheless. After all, look how many wonderful conversions have been based on the Nurgle Champion! The pose – had raised in a mercurial gesture that might suggest the offering of hope as much as a raised threat – is strong, and the distinctive banner should help him stand out as something a bit special. However this model turns out, I have a feeling I'll return to Mawl in the future – perhaps in his guise as Polyphy. +

+ The conversion itself was deceptively complex, as it involved a hell of a lot of removal of detail and reshaping of the distinctively chaotic armour. The silhouette remains sinister – I want him to look impressive and opulent, but subtly evil-looking. I left the detail on his left shoulder pad as I want to incorporate the hands of the Cephean card deck I created for the project (cups, suns, hands, beast, collars); that pad represents the suit of Beasts. +

+ In terms of painting, I'm going to avoid metallics. I want to distance the figure from Stormcast, and I already have a Blood Angels Captain to paint in opulent gold. I'm toying with oranges and pale greens for the Sun King Sciriusc, as these will complement the overall palette for the project. +


+ inload: Adeptus Titanicus – Legio Sumer +

+ Legio Sumer + 

_Strike the first rune upon the engine's casing employing the chosen wrench. Its tip should be anointed with the oil of engineering using the proper incantation when the auspices are correct.  _Strike the second rune upon the engine's casing employing the arc-tip of the power-driver.  _If the second rune is not good, a third rune may be struck in like manner to the first.  _This is done according to the true ritual laid down by Scotti the Enginseer.  _A libation should be offered.  _If this sequence is properly observed the engines may be brought to full activation by depressing the large panel marked "ON"

+++

The hall echoed to the sounds of industry. Restless turbines roared, sirens rang out intermittently, and the ring of hammer on metal – a steady, mechanically perfect beat – was, quite literally, deafening. Stummers built into her augmetics kept her ears from being damaged, but she could feel the rolling, endless noise as physical pressure. Rolling her shoulders, she continued her walk down the Via Diluvian; the great arched corridor into which the Titan hangars opened. 

Ignatzya looked about her as she walked, trying to keep her pace measured and dignified. Quite aside from the noise – the hall was overwhelming. Colossal pistons paced inexorably up and down, brightly-turned-out serfitores and overseers scuttled about, delivering, repairing or retrieving armaplas elements and piping, and great banners – many tens of yards long – moved reverently in the heat that arose from the minor forges. As the great piston nearest her reached its nadir, a slam of air pressure made her torso shake even as her group was swallowed up in the mist it released.

The cloud flashed with the oranges and reds and neon greens of the industrious hall, and Ignatzya breathed in the acrid-sweet flavour of burnt zinc and oil.

+++

It carried her back to the Arvus that had carried her – years before – from the orbital to the Field of Portonus, where she would be harnessed and trained. As the door had opened, her blood was up. She was half-turned, in a crouch that was part wariness, part readiness to fight. As the air equalised between the shuttle and the new planet, she had been enveloped in a similar swathe of mist, similarly lit from without by mysterious coloured flashes.

As that cloud had cleared she had taken her first breath of the air of Slav Nasr. Titan-forge. Not the world of her birth; but then, the qualifications to become a Godrider necessitated a net thrown wide: system-wide.

+++

As they marched out of the cloud, she saw a rank of perhaps two dozen Princeps and Moderati a hundred yards or so in front of her group. The senior crew's backs were to the advancing helots, and they were swathed in their own cloud – this bleeding from the great censers swaying from the augment-Magi. The figures were ranged in front of a God-machine's head, which was underlit by stablights, suspended on colossal chains above the altar. 

Ignatzya's chest tightened and her pulse began to race as Princeps Berossus turned to watch her and the others close. She clenched her teeth to dismiss any nervousness, her hands closing into fists. 

She would be part of the crew of a Titan. Godrider. World killer.

+++

+ Sons of the Temple +


+ I've been collecting various Titan crew models for a few years now. They're unlikely to ever take the field in 40k, but would make for great Inquisimunda/Inq28 personalities. The main reason I've been collecting them, however, is simply because they're lovely models, and I fancy painting them up as a set. Since there's not that many of them – I think a dozen or so in total, it's a realistic ambition for me to try to collect the whole range over the next few years; something I've never really tried before. +

+ Anyway, with an updated Adeptus Titanicus coming out, I wanted to develop a background for my own Titan Legion from scratch. I've started with their homeworld Slav Nasr, jewel of the Antona Australis sector. It is a Forge World and home to the so-called Sons of the Temple, the Legio Sumer, under Princeps Senioris Berossus. +

+ inload: Inspiration, idea and resources for 40k, Inq28 and Inquisimunda +

+ A source of ideas and inspiration +


+ A quick inload to say that the Antona Australis page of this blog has gone up – you can see it in the bar above, so click and have a look. +

+ Sector Antona Australis is a resource the PCRC – our gaming group – has built and uses to inform and inspire our games. The name is faux-Latin for Southampton, where most of us met. +

+ Of course, one of the great things about the hobby is sharing, so I'd like to invite you to explore the sector and see if anything sparks an idea for you games, or perhaps inspires a model or a warband. If it does, please let us know – or better still, send us a picture or two. +

+ The sector is fairly capacious, so if you're ever stuck for an idea in your 40k or skirmish games like Inq28 or Inquisimunda, try exploring and see where it leads. There are literally hundreds of settings and story threads for you to pull on and follow. +



+ I'll leave you to dive through the [+noospheric inloadlink+] and wish you luck. Remember, it's a big sector, and whatever happens, you will not be missed...! +

+ inload: Scenery building for Necromunda +

+ Scenery for Golgotham +

This one's name was Viggsy Carbolic, a verti-docker working the breach from the filtration districts down to where the Chemsalt Opens began. Every morning he woke up to the distant cry of ratowls out over the cavernous sea chambers; eyes sore, muscles tight across his back.

Muscle. That's what Carbolic could provide. He'd be introduced to me as a useful man to have in a tight spot; ex-ganger, ex-dealer, ex-enforcer – in-house, of course; the 'Ficials wouldn't have taken a second-look at him – and ex-criminal. 

'That's a lot of exes,' I'd commented, when we'd met at last. His scarred old face had pulled up into that sad, distant half-smile I'd later remember him by.

'You should meet the ex-wives.' 

I'd grinned. In truth, Carbolic was over-the-hill – an old man of nearly thirty, and already showing the greying skin of oxide build-up that takes us all in Water IV. Still, there was something about him; and the Throne alone knew that I couldn't afford to turn down a proper ganger; not when the rest of the block was skinny, excitable juves and a few loosescrews who couldn't make ends meet elsewise.

'So why the change of heart, Carbolic? What makes you want to get back into the game?'

Again, that sad smile. He didn't catch my eye; kept looking down at the pitted old table.

'You don't choose gang life, Fito. Gang life chooses you.'


+++

+ Water filtration district +

+ A small gathering of the PCRC at the weekend saw us beavering away to build some terrain for the upcoming release of Necromunda. +

+ Between Warmtamale, grahamgilchrist and myself, we've put together a very dense little 2 x 2 board – or more likely, enough to cover a 4 x 4 in a more practical fashion. +



+ The core of the water filtration district is one of the individual Sector Mechanicus boards that GW sell for their Armies of Parade event. A swift bit of hacksawing down one side of the road gave us an imposingly large wall [+vis-ref above+], which we then built up into a box with a spot of impromptu carpentry. +


+ The concept for the piece is a water-processing facility; one of thousands in the hive. Wickerwater, in the Vice IC district, has been loudly chugging away for the past four millennia or so, converting chemsalt- (and worse) polluted water that condenses and trickles and collects down the hive into potable (well, 'potable') water for the industrotech workers nearby. +


+ There's still a lot to do – greebling on the 'top deck', tidying, and of course painting, but we're really pleased at it so far. +



+ The underlying structure is essentially a huge pipe that just out of the wall, passes in front of the huge aquila – for, after all, the water must be purified spiritually as well as physically. +




+ We wanted to create a sense of 'monolithic claustophobia' – huge basic structures that are covered in a tangled wormery of pipes and walkways that have grown up like weeds over the centuries, so we included bits from a variety of sources to give a hotch-potch feel of varied tech-levels. +

+ Timber repairs – perhaps once temporary, but now as essential to the structure as anything else sit alongside the crumbling mechanical sections and dangling chains. +

+ There's a lot of height here – I think the highest point is about two foot off the surface! – which I hope will make for fun gaming. There's a balance to be struck between spectacle and playability; so a number of large chunks of the piece are separate, so that we can disguise the underlying pipework structure to a greater or lesser degree. Thus, Wickerwater will be able to double up as other areas; and is also practical for full scale 40k games, where such dense terrain is not always so desirable. + 

+ inload: Ave Dominus Nox +

+ Painting Night Lords +


+ Solidly WIP, I thought I'd scribble down some notes; as much for myself as anyone else! The aim of this is to give a very dead, neutral black. Normally this is something I'd avoid, but I want to rob the Night Lords of any vigour or warmth – all the better to get their bitterrness across; and more importantly, to make sure that the blue, gold and red scheme doesn't look cartoony. +

+ Night Lords' midnight plate +

_1 Undercoat grey (as always, I use Halford's primer).
_2 Basecoat blue areas with Necron Abyss, and metals with Abaddon Black.
_3 Glaze with a mix of Necron Abyss and Abaddon Black, thinned using flow enhancer.
_4 While wet, touch in Nuln Oil in the recesses, and lift away excess glaze from points of highlight.
_5 Mix The Fang (what a particularly dreadful name for a paint) with Necron Abyss, thin with flow enhancer and add initial highlights.
_6 Gradually add Vallejo white to the initial highlight mix and build up. Keep these sparing.
_7 Reglaze with Drakenhof Nightshade to soften any starkness in the highlights. Add Druchii Violet to the recesses to further deepen the shading.
_8 Once dry, dilute an even mix of Vallejo white and Necron Abyss and paint a few forking marks to represent the effect of the suit's lightning generators. Don't overdo it – subtle is best. 
_9 Add more white to the mix and thin further, then retrace the lines.
_10 Use pure white to reinforce just the points at which the lightning divides.
_11 If necessary, you can go back and clean up the lightning with negative painting – just paint Necron abyss over any splodges.


+ The metal is simply a 50:50 mix of Boltgun Metal and Auric Armour Gold washed over with Agrax Earthshade – again, I wanted an anaemic, thin-looking gold, to heighten the sense of darkness and also to avoid contrasting heavily. No point in painting moody blue-black only to spoil it by making the gold look like sweetie wrappers. +


+ These chaps are coming along well, I think, The eyes need enriching and there's plenty of detailing to do, but they're proving an enjoyable challenge. +

+ inload: Hive Confronsis +

+ Golgotham: Hive Confronsis +

Planetrise: From the pock-marked moon of Foretithe, the blighted planet Golgotham emerges over the horizon. The second moon; Corest, is visible on the left of the image.

 + Like most hive-cities of Golgotham, Confronsis runs on hyperfedual lines; with a few powerful spire families extending their patronage glutinously and insidiously into the depths of the hive-belly, where the industrotech clans – great organisations of affiliated family groups roughly equivalent to nation-states – toil ceaselessly beneath the ever-watchful eyes of the spires and authorities in order to feed the rapacious needs of the Imperium at large. Beneath these in turn are the benighted inhabitants of the largely lawless underhive; who live brief, scuttling, parasitical lives of equal parts freedom and fear. +


+ The Spire nobility +

+ Like a maddeningly vast tree or fungus, wealth is drawn ever upwards through Hive Confronsis, out to orbit. The dynastic spire houses jealously guard exclusive rights to communication with the outside Imperium; maintaining their position through strangleholds over advancement and development. The methods for this vary from house to house; but the oldest and most powerful houses operate every means at their disposal – legal and clandestine. +

+ The hypercompetitive nature of life on Golgotham means that the noble houses of the spires are united in just one thing; pursuit of advancement. True charitable works and attempts at general improvements for the populace are, for the most part, long-forgotten – such experiments leading to exploitation by competitors, or causing riots amongst the ever-suspicious industrotech clans, who fear alteration in the status quo. +

A typically well-equipped bodyman of House Graveney.
+ There are a few dozen noble houses; with a population running in the low millions between them. All own controlling stakes in at least one spire, while the most influential – Houses Serpentine, Graveney, Ur, Falconbrook, tegeus-Cromis and Neckinger – dominate swathes of the skyline as well as substantial holdings in the hive itself. Similarly, all will have vassal and allied industrotech houses that operate exclusively for the nobles. Many also have a – carefully shrouded – hand in the underhive; exploiting every possible source of wealth or power the hive has to offer. +

+ As long as they pay their share of the planet's ruinous tithe, Imperial Commander Barquentine – the Planetary Governor – is content for the heads of the houses (generally termed the paterfamilias or materfamilias) to operate as they see fit. Generally, this means appallingly aggressive – and often blatantly immoral or illegal – acts are commonplace. While open conflict between the noble houses themselves is rare (though far from unheard-of), proxy wars between the forces of the industrotech houses that are tithed and bound to the respective Spires are near-constant, as the noble forces tussle for power and influence. +

+ While there are wastrels, fever-seekers and fops in every house, the nobility of Confronsis are monstrously capable and marvellously astute – and to cross them is to be drawn almost inevitably into sadistically protracted ruin to serve as an example to others.

Many bored spire-dwellers become thrill seekers – some so criminally as to attract the attention of the Inquisition...

+ Brat gangs +

+ The children and scions of the Spire nobles are, for the most part, spoiled; wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice. Most are rigorously trained; indoctrinated and cultivated as potential successors to the head of the household, for even within the household proper, there is intrigue and danger. Granted influence, power and wealth, most are completely divorced from the realities of life in the hive; and regard the industrotech and underhive populace as a form of game or vermin. Many so called 'brats' form gangs and delve in search of danger and excitement, baiting and killing the very source of their wealth by engaging the industrotech guards in firefights – simply for the thrill. +

+ One might think that such gangs would be no match for the underhivers, but no noble house lasts long without a core of steel. The children of the spire nobles are clandestinely equipped with the best the Imperium has to offer – many indulgent noble houses openly tolerate such 'hive safaris'. Many brats are stimmed with combat drugs, genhanced, or trained by family militia bodyguards. Even exotica as personal protection fields, automedicae and similarly advanced tech is not unknown to the brat-gangs. +

+++

+ The Industrotech clans +

+ Numbering in the billions, the industrotech populace of Golgotham eke a tiring, precarious existence of production, deprivation and daily risk. Their lot is the punishingly physical labour that keeps the crumbling manufactories, refineries, mineheads and mills of Golgotham operating. Most live in cramped cell-quarters near – or even within – their dangerous, noisy workplaces; rarely straying beyond the confines of their occupation. +

+ Bowed, malnourished and resentful, the bulk of the industrotechs are monitored and driven to such disspirited levels of exhaustion that meaningful rebellion is kept simmering; though protests and riots are commonplace. Equally commonplace is the brutal punishment laid down on such rebels; both from without, by the militia of the House's noble sponsors and the Enforcers; and from within, by the House's own internal forces. +

+ Most industrotechs live from hour to hour, avoiding conflict and finding what diversion they can in prescribed diversionary holos and the Church. Of course, with such a vast populace, it is impossible for the overseers to monitor everyone – resources are thin, and impoverished prefects easily bribed. Grey and black markets abound around synthohol, narcotics, pitfighting and other semi-tolerated diversions. +

+ Crime, both openly violent and the less visible – such as smuggling, protection rackets and gambling – is common. As a result, all inhabitants of Hive Confronsis will bear a knife, hatchet, shortsword or club as a matter of course. Most will carry an improvised firearm of some sort; with many clans issuing signature or honorific weaponry to their workers. +

+ The minor houses + 

+ The vast majority of the population belongs to – or is indentured to – an industrotech clan, or house – the terms are interchangeable. The minor clan-houses – of which there are thousands – tend to be broadly related in massive extended families sharing a distinctive genotype, though exceptions to this are common enough. Small and relatively nimble, the minor houses operate in unique and constantly adaptive manners, producing short runs of a dizzying variety of materiel and product as licenses expire or tithes are withdrawn by sponsors for faults or errors in production. While a vast quantity of materiel is exported from Golgotham, this represents only a tiny proportion of what is produced – most is swallowed up by the hive-cities themselves. +

Low-ranking overseer-adepts of the Mechanicus are a relatively common
sight on Golgotham, though they are rarely tangled up in gang-fighting.
So diverse and large is the industrotech population – even within a single hive like Confronsis – that it is hard to make sense of the melange of cultures and subcultures that make them up. Most of the minor industrotech houses produce goods under monotask license to the Forge Worlds of the sector; stamping out arms and armour for the Imperium's armies alongside agricultural gear for the sector's agriworlds; and gewgaws and fripperies for the civilised worlds. An industrotech might easily spend their adult life as a factotum; moving just one arm in an endless action, stamping out near-worthless keyrings or plastek novelties for distant planets. +

+ Few minor houses make a large profit – there is little incentive, as excess is skimmed off by the protectionist nobles; and obvious growth will lead to raids from and conflict with rival industrotech houses. Most minor houses are grindingly conservative; favouring stability – however gloomy and thin – over additional danger. The minor houses jealously guard their slivers of territory – which may focus around a warehouse district, group of hab-blocks, or perhaps a refino-mill and its surrounding spoilheaps. The territories are as varied as any one might imagine; and limited not to the horizontal plane – indeed, many mining clans will control great vertical shafts through fathoms of the hive, taxing travellers who use these useful means of ascent. +

+ The major houses +

+ Houses that do successfully make a break for profit can find themselves elevated into the major houses – those that can afford to dominate and control subservient minor houses; or completely annex and exterminate them. Such events – where a new major industrotech house expands its ancestral territory – is inevitably the result of bloodshed, and usually leads to further conflict. Most such attempts result in the destruction of at least one minor house; its scions being enslaved or forced into the underhive as they lose what little protection the ancient clan-territories could provide. +

Ill-starred mercenaries, like deserters from the guard or
abhumans are tolerated at midhive, Some achieve notoriety.
+ The result is a new extended clan that combines to form a major house. Some are alliances tempered in blood, with two or more previous rival clans combining permanently through intermarriage, ritual vows of mutual kinship, or through more esoteric means, such as genesplicing or body-piloting. +

+ More commonly, one clan will become dominant over another, forcing the members of the lesser house into a subservient existence as thralls or bondsmen. Subservient houses generally form an oppressed slave caste; branded, electooed, maimed or otherwise marked as 'undermen', and gradually exterminated over time by giving them the most dangerous roles of all, or forcibly tithing them to the Guard draft. Particularly ruthless (or paranoid) house masters will lobotomise their serfs to become automats; deny them breeding rights, or simply chemically/physically castrate the workers to prevent a future rebellion while maintaining their ability to labour. Such is the brutal reality of life in hive Confronsis. +

+ The major houses form their own tier within the hive proper. Able to afford, bribe or bully their way into prime locations near the hive skin or the great thermal vents at the core, the major houses have extensive territories that are (relatively) well-powered or include views onto the outside world. To modern eyes, such a view – of a chemically colourful ash wasteland covered by brooding, churning clouds – would be terrifying, but to a hive-dweller, seeing a horizon is a thing of such wonder that many attribute to the outside world a holy quality. +

+ At the current date, there are thirteen major houses; all bitter rivals. Each has its own distinctive characteristics from long-held prejudices, specialisations and beliefs. Hugely varied, each major house of Confronsis has its own form of government, its own culture, and its own indentured militia, which serve as part of the Planetary Defence Force. These forces range from the lithe and subtle warriors of House Demogorgon, to the muscle-brutes of House Ordovic, and the violence-choirs of House Sephulcrave. +

+++

+ Industrotech gangs +

+ The hive is vast and echoing. Seething though it is with humanity (and other denizens), vast though claustrophic tracts are unexploited. While the industrotech houses have large territories, these are continually shifting. Unfortunate outlying habs can be cut off from house territories by attack or natural disaster – indeed, there are tales of isolated habs remaining under siege for months or years before succumbing. Unless an area is important to a house – such as containing a taxable link to the heatsink ,or providing some particularly valuable export, many houses will simply write off the losses because reclaiming them is economically unviable. +

+ It is not just possible but commonplace for entire complexes of warehouses, throughways and hab-blocks to be lost as a result of hive quakes, plagues, internecine conflicts or population migrations. Officially restricted from exploiting such neutral territories, it is the gangs of the industrotech houses that explore and exploit such areas. +

+ In addition to their official militaries, all of the major industrotech houses overlook a semi-tolerated gang culture that operates beneath scrutiny and without official support. These provide the houses with groups of unbalanced, frustrated or potentially dangerous house members who are encouraged to explore the hive, raiding, disrupting and unbalancing rival houses – or finding rich plots of land to exploit. Word travels fast in the warren-like bounds of the hive, and a gang that manages to find a route into a warehouse or isolated settlement will soon find itself having to fight to maintain its territory. +

+ While their activities are de-facto criminal, gangs provide kin of the house with much-needed protection, comradeship and a substitute family structure. More importantly to the industrotech house councils is the fact that the gangs – often workmates – work more productively together, and act as a permanent watch and defence against attacks – from rival industrotech houses, from spire safaris, and from uprising underdweller groups. +

+ Gangs are as varied as any group of humanity. Some favour a unifrom paramilitary appearance; others revel in individuality. Distictive and extreme clothing and hairstyles; along with piercings, tattooes, and body modification are common amongst the underhivers – and more so amongst gangers. There is no such thing as a typical gang, but some name themselves after their territories – Cromerty Piston Killers, the Eighteenth-Parallel or Gutterwell Boys are example – or a particular ritual practise; such as the Headtakers, Widowmen or Mara Cavorta. Still others pick a seemingly meaningless, intimidating or even whimsical name – the Yellow Henry Gang, Black Gates or Whistling Sheers. +

+++

+ The Underhive +

+ Beneath the spires, beneath the belly of the hive, beneath even the lowest of the minor industrotech houses, are the twisted and tangled tunnels and caverns of the planet's surface itself. Remnants of ancient mines and ruins of the original settlements, the underhive is where the lowest of the low can be found – scav-gangs, scions of vanished or destroyed minor houses, escaped slaves, abhumans and mutants like the near-mythical vermen all make an uneasy and uncertain living here. +

+ While the hive proper sees gang warfare between rival houses, the underhive is the true palette for the artistry of gang warfare. Here, there are no enforcers to sweep down; no house militia to scatter the small gangs. In the underhive, the heaviest of weaponry can be deployed; proscribed drugs and practices indulged, and the worst crimes of all committed in the name of wealth and personal power. It is a heady cocktail for the young men and women that make up the gangs... +

+ The underhive of Confronsis is lethally dangerous, with precious and long-forgotten technology mingling with brutal chemical pollution. Deluges of literal acid rain – formed by the gradual leaching of chemical waste from uphive mixing with the steamsweat of the populace – is a continual threat, and the thick, close air is tainted with metallic air-borne gasses and poisons. Movement of the hive itself, as it settles further into its agonisingly prolonged but inevitable ruin, sends great gouts of dust and ash shooting up from ancient shafts and tunnels as they collapse; and yawning sinkholes and pits can open up with little or no warning. +

+ The tangled territories of the underhive do not directly contribute to the hive's wealth or society; nor do they benefit from the uncertain benefits of 'trickle-down wealth' that supposedly benefits the industrotechs. Down at hive bottom, banditry and raiding are near-essential to survival. One is either a killer, or a victim. +

+ Nevertheless, there are some things found in the underhive that are found nowhere else – great vaults of archeotech, exploitable hive fungus and direct power couplings are just a few of these. All are of immeasurable value to the industrotech houses and beyond; but too unpredictable to waste already desperately-thin resources on exploiting. This is left to the gangs, who descend to fight each other and claim the spoils. +

+ Known semi-permanent areas of the underhive +

+ Chemsalt Plain

+ The Great Brown Waste

+ The Crumble

+ Shelftown

+ Fastnet

+ The Bight: