+ 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. +


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