+ inload: The Muphrid Disc Clearances +

+ The Muphrid Clearances +

After their actions on Arcturus, the Third Company's next deployment was to support the elements of the First and Fifth companies during their clearance of Muphrid, a binary star system rimwards of Arcturus. Muphrid's swollen primary star, a red-giant, was planetless, though the system's large accretion disc contained numerous habitable, if inhospitable, planetoids.

The Order of Solar Ascendant maintained a number of isolated priories and missions here, which had historically been the lynchpin of Imperial defence as ork pirate raids increased in frequency. The Sororitas had successfully launched punitive raids on encroaching greenskins that had made landfall on the many Imperial mining operations, but they were stretched thinly; and their naval support was woefully inadequate. Much to her personal – and far from private – chagrin, Prioress Al-Achsasi was obliged to request help from the wider Imperium.

Battle Sisters of the Order of Solar Ascendant
The answer came from Master Formosus of the Blood Angels, who notified the Prioress that the a large element of the Blood Angels fleet would perform an interdiction and extermination campaign to sweep and clear the Muphrid Disc of xenos vessels of cruiserweight displacement or greater. When Al-Achsasi asked for consultation on behalf of the Imperial local command, she was rebuffed with a dismissive explanation that the Astartes required no assistance in this matter. Bristling at this perceived insult, the Prioress and Chapter Master's relationship proved strained throughout the campaign; a matter worsened by the region's close and vocal ties with Nova Terra.

It is a mark of humanity's hatred for the xenos that both the fanatical and studiedly neutral were able to put aside their differences to fight the orks – albeit under duress. It was fortunate indeed for the Imperium here that they were able to avoid internecine conflict, as the forces here and on Arcturus proved to merely be the vanguard of a building ork crusade from the smouldering Charadon region.

Ork commando of Luggub's infamous Drop Legion.
On at least two occasions, the forces of Solar Ascendant and the Blood Angels were required to work together in hulk clearances. While Formosus and Abelard avoided deploying their forces alongside potential heretics, Tycho of the Third followed a more pragmatic path, though communication and interreliance between the forces was strained at best.


+ Building +

+ Well, that was a productive evening! I started to build the boyz for my ork force. As I think I've mentioned before, the Alien Wars/Nova Terra Interregnum setting I'm developing is essentially my iteration of the Rogue Trader (RT) era. I think the RT background is a lot more dystopian, with more emphasis on the desperate, floundering scale of the Imperium. There are perhaps fewer existential threats – modern 40k has a 'five minutes to midnight' feel of apocalyptic scale and gods walking the galaxy; whereas RT concentrates on the million, million smaller wars that burn across a galactic empire collapsing under its own weight. +

+ If 8th is Ragnarok; RT is a World War. It might not be the literal end of existence, but it's bloody unpleasant for those involved, and no-one can escape. RT also has less of a definite sense of good and evil. While the orks are nominally 'the baddies', the Imperium are hardly good guys. The shades of grey in RT are much closer. +

+ I'm trying to get this across in my orks by downplaying the more exaggerated features and adding more military-style fatigues and armour. RT background originally had the orks as slavers; their equipment definitely manufactured rather than individually built, though there was still a (small c) chaotic sense of individuality. Basically, I want the orks to look like a tough, hardened militia. +

+ Below you can see the first ork. As with Thrugg [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], I'm taking a period miniature as inspiration; here one of Kev Adam's seminal ork boyz. In terms of the details, I've tried to capture the main elements – the revolver-style gun, baggy fatigues, neck-scarf and quilted flak armour. However, I'm also a big fan of Brian Nelson's version of the orks, so I didn't want to completely lose the brutal charm of the underlying sculpt. +

I've desaturated the top right part to blend the greenstuff work in for clarity, but I've left the bottom part of the picture untouched, so you can see the details on the face. I've added a bottom lip and slightly extended the nose – both very minor details that don't alter Brian Nelson's awesome basic sculpt too much, but do give the figure individuality. +

+ Individuality +

+ This is an important point about non-human figures. You can get away with bare human/space marine (and even eldar) heads being duplicates, because we're familiar with human faces being broadly similar, and are hyper-aware of tiny differences in skintone and shape. As a result, using the same human head repeatedly will seem natural, as the paintjob will inevitably bring out tiny differences that the brain unconsciously reads as details. +

+ That doesn't apply to orks, or other slightly less humanoid figures like Tau, as we're not as attuned to the archetypal face. Thus, seeing the same head will look like masks, giving an unnatural feel. This applies even after paint, as the non-human skintone (green, blue etc.) is equally unfamiliar. To combat this, you need to either make the skintones radically different, really push the visual texture (adding muscular striations etc.), or chop and sculpt around the face. That's the best way to get a sense of individuality back into the models. After all, xenos or not, orks are organic and just as diverse as 'oomies. +

+ As an aside, I think this effect is part of what gives plastic (and particularly CAD-designed) models the reputation as 'less characterful', due to the inevitable repetition of certain parts, and the loss of what can charitably be called the 'sculptor's touch' (and unkindly called tiny errors). Hopefully the minor changes here will go some way to capturing the quirky individualism of RT-era sculpts, without sacrificing the sharpness and quality of the modern plastics. +


  1. Love how the relatively small changes to the ork make it shift back to the RT side of things. Excellent work. Is that revolver cannon a new Necromunda bit?

    And the sisters are as one would expect great too. What are you going to do for their power packs? Given their size, you might want to look at RT marine backpacks. With an added bit of plate and of course a few fleur-de-lis, they might serve. If you do a full squad (as you should), it would be interesting to see some more battle hardened examples, laden with magazine pouches and the like.

    1. Good eyes on the revolver cannon; it's from the new Goliath sprue.
      Regarding the Sisters, you're spot-on the money. I've been looking for proper Sisters of Battle backpacks, but they seem rare as hen's teeth, so I've ordered some RTB01 backpacks to use.

      It'd be a lot of fun to build a full squad, but prohibitively expensive... :s

    2. Yes, I looked into getting the Gemini myself, and it appears that the only way to get cheaply them in bulk would be to buy the triumvirate box multiple times and sell/trade the excess. Not impossible, but a bit daunting.

      Not helped by the fact that the only plastic helmet is on the also rare immolator sprue...


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