+ 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. +


  1. I cannot wait to see the Unman..... so many images are running riot in my head! ^^

  2. Human derived pot-belled pig replacements seem particularly gruesome.

    Given the time difference you have probably already embarked, but you might consider a fuller post-thorn world squad before you build this partial one... sometimes new ideas might come out of that.

  3. I have been scouring the warp for fellow denizens of the Thorn Moons Crusade. Did you get your submissions in on time? If so I cannot wait to see what you came up with. The fluff you have begun to establish is great.


+ submission exloadform: inload [comments] herein +