+ inload: Tau in Tzi'Na +

+ The Tzi'Na Crisis – Tau forces of M41 +

The Tzi'Na Crisis is a campaign between the Tau forces of the Brightsword Protectorate and the invading Curdling Armada, an immense fleet of unsavoury and predatory Chaos raiders.

This article is here to help PCRC Tau players to tell stories within the new region during the campaign. (A similar one is on the way for the Chaos players.) More importantly, perhaps, it's here to make the setting a little clearer! Antona Australis is more than six years old, and has got quite complicated.


The Brightsword Protectorate and surrounding space, M41.
+++

+ What is the Tzi'Na Enclave? +

The Brightsword Protectorate is a tau-led coalition of worlds, armed forces and space fleets. Under the command of The High Council and its figurehead Aun'El Si'Ot Lon, the Protectorate represents the power and influence of T'au in the Antona Australis sector; intended as a bold and gleaming statement of the young species' intent of galactic dominance. 
In broader terms, the Brightsword Protectorate is the Tau's area of influence in Antona Australis; roughly equivalent in size to an Imperial Subsector. A general space for the PCRC to play with, it is made up of a large circular region and a number of smaller Enclaves. A short bit of 'history' explains this here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] in more detail, but the broad points are summarised below.

In-universe: The Tau were so successful that the Protectorate eventually got too big to govern centrally, owing to the Tau's lack of faster-than-light travel and communication. The High Council (see above) therefore set up subsidiary regions called Enclaves. These remain part of the Brightsword Protectorate, but are semi-autonomous. They are responsible for their own protection, taxation etc., but send representatives to The High Council, and can expect support from the broader Protectorate (and in turn from the Tau Empire as a whole).


  • Tau Empire > Brightsword Protectorate > Enclave > Individual starsystems > Septs (planets)


Out-of-universe: The Enclaves are a bit of a fudge that allow different PCRC members to create their own personal space for their Tau, and help account for the different stories you guys have written – while still keeping the Tau in the region vaguely united. Stuntwedge created his Starblade Enclave when the region was first set up back in 2013, so I took the name from there. The Tzi'Na Enclave was created to physically connect the main Brightsword Protectorate region to Warmtamale's Deep Reef setting on the sector map.




+++

+ Okay, I want to join the Tau + 

Cool. You don't need to do anything beyond playing games with your Tau against people's Chaos armies.


+ Join the Tau Empire! Super-dynamic opportunities for advancement! +

+ Aw, but I want to add to the story +

Sweet – now we're talking! As always, the first rule is 'do whatever you like, I'm not your boss'. 
However, if you'd like to build on the basic blocks already laid down, then read on:
+ Tzi'Na Enclave history and notes: +
  • The Enclave covers a region that was largely wilderness space. There are lots of minor xenos and abhuman populations, as well as lots of worlds populated only by Tau settlers. Your systems can be ex-Imperial if you like, but most regions are 'fresh'. 
  • The Enclave was created following the High Council's Second Sphere Expansion. A fleet was created to liberate the region and establish the Tzi'Na Enclave. 
  • The Enclave is relatively new (one or two generations of Tau settlers). Some planets remain independent, but most of the planets have – willingly or unwillingly – submitted to Tau rule. 
  • The region as a whole can be treated as an occupied territory. The Tau decided to grant religious freedom, so lots of Chaos Cults sprang up on the ex-Imperial worlds.
  • The increased presence of cults drew the interest of Kainan; who became the figurehead for a Black Crusade. He heads the Curdling Armada, which has invaded to conquer the region in the name of the Dark Gods of Chaos.
+ Shas'O Po'Psox +
+ Who's in charge? +
  • The High Council is at the top. 
  • Below The High Council, and directly responsible for the Enclave's military is the Tau Military Command (TMC).
  • Commander Strongheel – also known as Shas'O Po'Psox – is the TMC's representative in the region; and in overall command of all Tau forces. He led the Second Sphere expansion for the Tzi'Na Enclave.
  • The TMC is a council of equals; so while Strongheel is the current President, he has no direct authority over your characters, merely political weight. In short, he can't order your guys; though for the sake of fitting in with the broader Tau background, I'd suggest we avoid everyone being a rebel!

+++

+ How does my existing army fit in? +

All the above has been written in order to make sure that you get to tell your stories. I've been careful not to contradict anything recorded on the PCRC site, so there's no need to change your army's background. However, if you want to update, advance or adapt your army's story, now's as good a time as any. Here are a couple of starting points.
  • The PCRC's military commanders – that is, your characters, like Starblade, H'unk, Suna Sene etc. – represent senior officers within the TMC. You decide what relationship they have. Your commander might be a maverick, treating the TMC's orders as advice; or they may be a staunch believer in the Greater Good, and closely influence the TMC's plans.
  • The PCRC's Ethereals (Lord T'o'T'o, Aun’El K’myar’sa etc.) are Ethereals, so they can pretty much do what they want. However, unless there's a very good reason, I'd suggest they will all recognise Aun'El Si'Ot Lon (The High Council's figurehead) as their boss.
  • You should choose whether your forces are:
    • Veterans of the Second Sphere Expansion wars – i.e. the Tau warriors who conquered the region, and who remain as a garrison.
    • Newly-raised within the Enclave.
    • Reinforcements from the broader Protectorate brought in to fight the invading Curdling Armada.

+ New worlds, new opportunities +

Needless to say, the Tzi'Na Enclave (and the Second Sphere Expansion in general) offers a great opportunity to create a new army, or develop second-line characters a bit further. 

+Stuntwedge's Kais-Eoro oversaw the victory in Heyn'Am. What will he do next? +


+++

+ To create a star system for your Tau +

Use this link [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. Stuntwedge's template makes everything nice and clear, so just fill in the boxes.
  • If you want to be a good, loyal Tau citizen, and part of the main Protectorate, then your system should sit near the following co-ordinates: X:85 Y:35 (you fill these in near the bottom of the form, under 'Star Map Settings'). That site is the centre of the Protectorate region – keep the values within five or so to make sure you're within it (or test and adjust with the edit function).
  • If you want to be a dynamic frontier colonist, and part of the Tzi'Na Enclave, your system should sit near the following co-ordinates: X:75 Y:38. Again, that marks the centre. Keep the values with three or so to stay within the Enclave.
This system is for you and you alone. It can be your army's homeworld, or – if you don't want your troops permanently settled in Antona Australis for whatever reason (e.g. an existing story you've written) – it can simply be a place they use as a staging post. If anyone wants to invade or do something to this region, they ought to check with you first. 


As an Imperial example, Lambda is the system where my Lamb's World guard come from. If someone wants to invade it/blow it up/have their character declare Exterminatus on it, it would be nice to be consulted beforehand. In contrast, Cha'Anxi is another system I've made – and its entire raison d'etre is to provide a setting for us to have battles, write stories etc. Feel free to do whatever there – and events in-games should definitely have an effect.

The same approach can be used to create a new system to fight over. As explained above, these are fair game for anyone to use. Here are the broad strokes of Tzi'Na to help guide you in creating systems and provide some inspiration for writing background that fits the existing background:

+ Warmtamale's Sune Sene has a whole history to write+

+ Naming +

  • As per above, the PCRC first rule applies – 'do what you want'.
  • I've been using slightly re-worded Chinese and Korean towns/regions as the basis for the systems' names, to give a semi-coherent feel to the region.
  • Not all the systems you create need to be Tau septs, so feel free to bring in other influences. I would, however, suggest that most systems should have a Tau feel to them.
  • The enclave's a pun on the New Wave band China Crisis, so feel free to add some classic dreadful 80s references.
+++

+ But I'm not in the PCRC +

While it's written for our gaming group, there's nothing to stop you using this inload to provide some guidelines or ideas for your own gaming. 

Antona Australis is our little corner of the 40k galaxy – but even so, it's a big place. Doubtless there are Tau forces we'll never identify fighting against some offshoot of the Curdling Armada – why not tell their story with your own games?

+ inload: The Strange Fate of Shas'Nel Naseel +


The Kau-ui had deployed a few days earlier; scouting out the old river valley and forcibly evacuating the few reluctant aboriginals from the nearby hamlet. Shas'Nel Naseel had overseen the operation on the ground, directing his experienced Strike teams while the Shas'El ranged ahead with the Stealth Teams.

Fewer than a hundred kilometres behind them sat Waygoan, one of the principal cities of the region. There, an entire Legion of local auxiliaries were undergoing their hastened training. By now, Naseel mused, the first would be graduating. The more time the Fire Caste could buy, the more prepared the cities would be to withstand this strange invasion.

He reached under his helm, flicked the securing catch with a practised finger, and lifted it away. He closed his eyes and took a moment to enjoy the soft breeze and balmy evening. It was quiet, and peaceful. For a moment, he was reminded of the Civilised Hall of Serene Obedience on Luye'st. 

After a few stolen moments, he replaced his helm, checking the readouts and heads-up display. Two chimes were pending; likely status reports from his subordinates. 

His Kau-ui was well-equipped, had air support and knew the territory. Reinforcements in the form of Fire Caste cadres, armour units and aircraft were en route from deeper within the Tzi'Na Enclave; and Enclave-Commander Strongheel had – just three days ago – made a public augmit-cast pledge to the population that Or'Na would stand. 

So why did Naseel feel a nagging sense of doubt?


+++

+ Game type: 40k 8th edition; Open Play
+ Mission: Blitz, 32 Power Level
+ Combatants: Apologist, commanding the Bleak Vespers; vs Bob Hunk, commanding the Hunter Cadre Hun'k.
+ Battleground: The Septworld Or'Na – the G'loshes Pass approach to Waygoan. Fertile farming land amongst steep hills, the dried-up river valley narrows to a defensible pass. An infantry force of Death Guard – the Bleak Vespers – has used the hills to avoid air strikes, and is advancing towards Waygoan City.

+ Deployment and early turns +


+ The Fire warriors hunker down, forming the first line of defence. A cry goes up as the Death Guard emerge from the gathering dusk – but a low-flying Thunderhawk performs a preliminary bombardment, killing a number of Fire Warriors on the Tau's left flank. +


+ Undaunted, Naseel orders disciplined volley-fire against the invaders. The Death Guard's armour and unnatural resilience protects them. +



+ Pulsefire echoes down the lines. +



+ From the hill, kroot and another Strike Team lend their weight to fire; and first one, then a second Plague Marine falls. +



+ Ducking down to avoid the increasing return fire, the Shas'Nel pauses to report contact – and a flutter of nervousness arises. They're not doing enough damage to stop the invaders yet... +



+ Ponderously but inexorably, the Bleak Vespers march towards the Tau lines. Their advance is accompanied by the disturbing sound of turgid bells and tocsins. +



+ Forcing their way over – or simply through – the fences and hedges, the Plague Marines get to grips with the desperate defenders. +



+ His squad wiped out, Naseel attempts to fall back. A Plague Marine seizes him by the throat, lifting him into the air... + 



+ Gurgling, his vision dimming, the Tau sub-commander kicks out frantically, but hears nothing but the gloating laughter of his captors. +



+ Dismayed, the remainder of the Kau-ui make a disciplined fall back, firing on the move as they displace again and again. More of the Plague Marines fall – but not enough. Too many creakingly regain their feet, shrugging off the most heinous wounds. +



+ A counter-charge by the Kroot auxilia meets the same fate as the Fire Warriors – crushed by the fists and heels of the ominous invaders. +



+ With their forces fading, the Stealth Teams redouble their attacks – but even their heavy rotary cannons can't find a chink in the Astartes' plate. +



+ The Death Guard press on through the valley, boltguns raised to eye level and reaping their enemies. +



+ Redeploying from the burnt-out farmhouse, the remaining Strike Team gathers on the hill. +



+ The concentrated firepower of the remaining desperate Tau takes down the last member of a Death Guard squad – but the filthy sorceries of the Plague God find a weak link... +



+ One after another, half a dozen Fire Caste Warriors collapse, their bodies overcome with a strange wasting disease. The remainder, already fearful, flee as the strange bells toll. +


+ Result: Chaos victory +

+++

+ It was surprising to see just how much firepower Plague Marines can take. This infantry-focussed skirmish probably played to their strengths, and I suspect Hunter Cadre Hunk will bring more specialised equipment next time! +

+ As with the game summarised yesterday – the First Battle of Heyn'Am [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] – the Plague Marines didn't kick out much firepower of their own, with the majority of casulaties being caused either by morale losses or through mortal wounds generated by the sorcerer. Curse of Lepers involves rolling seven dice; each that exceeds the nearest enemy unit's toughness causes a mortal wound. This proved deadly in this game, grievously hurting the battlesuit commander and wiping out half of a Strike Team. +

+ While the 'shock and awe' effect of seeing a new army was novel, I can't imagine that a whole army of Plague Marines – as I'd originally planned – would be very fun to play against, purely owing to the sheer difficulty of removing the buggers. I think I'll prioritise some cultists and things to help with the variety for larger games. +

+ Nevertheless, it was a fun game, and – as 8th seems to encourage – packed with fun little events that suggest stories. +

+ What next? +
+ With the Bleak Vespers having made their way through the mountains, they have the option of pushing on to Waygoan, one of the Tau-held cities on Or'Na, and claiming it in the name of Kainan and the Curdling Armada. Will the Tau's auxiliary forces be ready in time to defend it – or can Strongheel's veteran forces such as  Commander Starblade and Commander Suna Sene launch a counter-assault? +

+ Secondly, whatever will happen to Naseel? I can't imagine being captured by Chaos is good for him... Will he escape, be rescued, or will some strange fate happen to him? +

+ inload: Slow and purposeful: First Battle of Heyn'Am +


+ Following the events on the Tau septworld of Or'Na, in Cha'Anxi – a datablurt-summary of the battle can be found here: [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] – the forces of the Curdling Armada are on driving forward on a number of fronts. +

+ As warfare on the Cha'Anxi front escalates, Kainan has dispatched a battlegroup to the Heyn'Am Rim. A motley collection of abhumans, traitor guardsmen and cultists, the force is accompanied by cell-warbands of Renegade Astartes, including the Mottled Halo, Bleak Vespers, Sons of Spectra and Scions of Magnus – a Thousand Sons warband commanded by the sorcerers Nikolai and Kamal. 

+ Tasked with disrupting critical food and supply lines from the bountiful world of Heyn'Am itself, the battlegroup made landfall only after a long and costly void battle. The sacrifices of the Air Caste gave the resourceful Commander Kais-Eoro – the ranking Tau officer in the system, and a trusted lieutenant of the sectorial commander, Strongheel – time to stiffen his hurriedly-prepared and inexperienced force of auxiliary defenders. +


+++

+ As the bulk of the two armies forces clashed across half a dozen strategic points, the elites met in the First Battle of Heyn'Am. An uneasy alliance of Death Guard and Thousand Sons met with Kais-Eoro's own battle-hardened corps of Fire Warriors – and some unexpected mercenaries: the Duke of Gork 'n Da Ten Faaazand. +




+ Lacking sufficient experienced Fire Caste warriors, and dubious of the indiginous levy's morale, Kais-Eoro made the fateful decision to employ a warband of greenskins to stymie the Chaos forces' advance. The aggressive greenskins executed a massive charge in the centre within moments of the battle's beginning. +


+ The fresh, verdant coastal landscape quickly became a quagmire as the brutal greenskins met the equally savage heretic Astartes. The heart of the battle was in a swirling ongoing melee in the centre, with more and more forces drawn into a meatgrinder. +

+ When the last orks fell in the centre, a mere handful of Plague Marines remained standing, swaying but defiant – but Kais-Eoro's own household was virtually untouched; and the remnants of the orks were sweeping up the embattled Thousand Sons on the shoreline. +

+ As light began to fall, the Tau-led coalition had the upper hand, but it had been a brutal and draining fight for both sides. + 

+ Result: a hard-fought victory for the Tau +


+++

+ Aftermath +

+ The mysterious tzeentchian warband claimed a personal victory, as they had rescued – or abducted – the hermit-magos Inshabel. This notorious heretek had haunted the worlds of the Heyn'Am Rim for some time, evading Imperial justice. His forbidden research into thanatology presumably promises Kamal and Nikolai some way of replenishing their ranks of Rubric marines. +

+ The Death Guard Sorcerer Czeslisc mournfully ordered the retreat before his forces were wiped out completely. His next act will be to report to his superiors; and perhaps return with reinforcements to subdue the tenacious world. +

+ Kais-Eoro's hunter cadre returned home virtually intact – a vital advantage for the ongoing war. Now Brightsword Command is aware that the Curdling Armada can strike deep into the Enclaves, perhaps Kais-Eoro's status will be increased. +

+ As for the Duke of Gork 'n da Ten Faaasand... The Duke himself crawled from the wreckage of his favourite buggy, who can say how he will react? Recriminations against the Tau, or pursuit of a valued new enemy? +


+++





+ inload: Black Vespers painting progress +

+ Bleak Vespers: painting progress +


+ Buoyed by time to paint, I've cracked on with the Death Guard. Above you can see the Blightbringer. Not finished yet, but coming along. I pontificated wrote about that in an earlier inload [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], where I described the plan to mute the plasma pistol; build up the bell in his hand as asecondary focal point, and draw the eye to the main tocsin. +

+ This is coming along, but you'll spot that the main bell is still too close in tone to its surroundings – I'll have to work something out to catch the eye – and the plasma pistol is still a bit too striking. With that said, I quite like it as it stands, so the challenge may be to simply make the tocsin stand out more. +




+ With regards to the handbell, that's looking much warmer. A bit more highlighting and that's going to be done, I think. It's not as striking as I'd aimed, but I like the beaten bronze feel. In addition, I'd not taken this cheery little nurgling into account. Now I've got him painted up – isn't the little blighter a cutie? – he adds a lot of visual weight to this side, helping to balance the piece. +

+ What's my point? Simply that while planning is good, it's also okay to adapt on the fly to take into account things not working, or happy accidents. +


+++

+ Concentrating on the Blightbringer left little time for anything else, but I did touch in the eyes on the batch, along with rebasing details – cables, weapon handles, basically anything that isn't white or green – on the three below in brown-black. This stages tidies and redefines areas that need attention, and helps clarify what's what. +


+ Basing is on my mind. The test model was on urban grey, but I'm having second thoughts on that. The scheme is already drab, and I wonder if a warm earthy colour could work. +


+ It's satisfying to see things progress day by day; even if just by a little. +


+ When painting something, I often look up photographs for source material. Somehow, I don't fancy doing it for infected/necrotic flesh... +


+ inload: Alien Wars – Anatomy of the enemy V: Ymgarli +

+ Anatomy of the enemy V: Ymgarli +

+ [guestinloadID: Bob_Hunk] +


When we think of the Enemy Within, our minds often turn to the secret servants of the Ruinous Powers; the mutant, the witch and the heretic. Yet there is another threat – just as insidious – that worms its way along the trade arteries of the Imperium like a cancer of the blood. I speak, of course, of the Ymgarlii.

De Rerum Xeno - Master Algernon Traegus of the Crimson Fists

+++

+ Abstract +

The 'Cult of the Ymgarli' is the name given to the the product of the Ymgarli gene-curse; a hideous network of alien subversion that infects and undermines the domains of human and other xenos alike.


+ First contact +

Once believed to be endemic to the moons of Ymgarl, from which the species takes its name, the exact date of first contact with the Ymgarli is lost in the mists of time. The Ymgarli's parasitic nature further complicates a hard date, and it is possible that a number of minor xenos – and abhuman groups –identified as new forms were, or are, in fact hybridised Ymgarli.

+ A combination of psychic domination, and agitprop presenting forbidden concepts such as 'equality' and 'democracy' allow Ymgarli to infiltrate and influence unwary members of Imperial society. +
The tireless research of xenoarchaeologists indicates that the Ymgarli have in fact been an ever-present xenos threat during the Age of the Imperium; lurking in the shadows, waiting for the time that Humanity lowers its guard.

Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that Ymgarli were amongst the myriad alien threats that contributed to the fall and enslavement of man during the Age of Strife. Certainly, Ymgarli forces seem to have been encountered by advancing Expedition Fleets during the Great Crusade. The xenos-biologists of the day did not understand the Ymgarli in the level of detail that we do today, but reference can be found in Legion records to 'wyrm-faced xenoforms' who held their human subjects in 'hypnotic bondage'.


+ Ymgarli biology +

The germinal or 'pure' form – if such a term can be applied to such abominations – of the Ymgarli is a six-armed bipedal nightmare, able to dart from the shadows on two swift legs to tear apart its prey with four preternaturally strong limbs. Two of these arms terminate in razor-sharp claws, the other two in blasphemously human-like hands that allow them to operate basic mechanisms like levers and door handles, should the need arise when they are stalking their prey.

Even this pure form is seemingly subject to numerous variations – some exhibiting taloned limbs, muzzles ending in probosces, waving masses of tendrils or split jaws. Some are seemingly blind, while others bear multiple sets of eyes. A number of examples have been identified with adaptation to aquatic environments, and it is possible there are further specialised populations that inhabit environments inimical to man. Whether there is an underlying stability, or these represent different clades of related species, is unknown. Further populations must be studied.

Common to almost all Ymgarli germinals is their tough, leathery skin supplemented with a chitinous exoskeleton. This tough outer carapace functions as a rudimentary form of natural armour. However, Ymgarli are rarely forced to rely on this for protection, as they have lightning fast reflexes that allow them to dodge most incoming attacks. Ymgarli germinals are found in a range in colours from the green to purple through to black, and this coloration is partially passed to their blasphemous offspring.

+ Ymgarli apex germinal [accreditation: Bob Hunk] +
The most horrifying aspect of Ymgarli biology is their reproductive cycle. This begins with the so-called 'Ymgarli Kiss'. The germinal will pin their chosen victim in place with a hypnotic gaze and implant their germ seed with an ovipositor hidden in their tongue, infecting the host species with a terrible gene-curse. The offspring of the infected creature will be a monstrous crossbreed of the Ymgarli and the host species, the Ymgarli having in effect 'stolen' the genes of its victim. These misshapen Ymgarli half-breeds will grow and mature, flocking together to interbreed, creating – through a process that is little understood – more half-breeds and Ymgarli germinals.

The first germinal of its brood to initiate this process will develop to become an apex form of this unclean xenos. Referred to within the brood by paternal nomenclature, apex germinals are powerfully psychic and form the centre of a telepathic web with the brood of hybrids that they have spawned. The 'All-Father' will become like a god to their extended family, a centre of worship that usually takes on a cultic or church-like structure that serves to shroud the germinal forms and give the hybrids license to proselytise. Many confirmed Ymgarli infestations have been found using this subterfuge, hence why the species is commonly referred to as the Cult of the Ymgarli. 

The most truly heretical aspect of this Cult is that they will often pose as a subdivision of the Ecclesiarchy, cloaking their xenos nature in the benevolent shroud of the Emperor. Once the brood has reached a critical mass, they will erupt from their hiding places, tear down the host society of the city or planet that they are infecting, and claim lordship over the ruins.

Ymgarli are opportunistic, and do not limit their infiltration to humanity. There are corroborated records of hybridised/dominated Barghesi, Orks, Thyrrus, Saharduin, Galg, and Q'orl; along with dozens of instance reports of other species manifesting similar or relatable evidence of interaction with Ymgarli.

+ Posited early-generation Mastokar hybrid: Coomb';s World Theatre +


+++

Ymgarli technology +

+ Lacking military hardware, Ymgarli often utilise re-purposed industrial gear. +
Ymgarlii germinals do not use tools or weapons as we understand them. They have little need for weapons though, as their claws are more than capable of rending apart even the blessed plate of an Astartes. They are particularly dangerous in large numbers where they attack in an unstoppable avalanche of limbs that it is impossible to guard against.

As for the Ymgarli half-breeds, they are armed in the same manner as the society they are subverting. This can be anything from the crude autoguns and lascarbines of frontiersmen and underhive gangs to the bolt weapons and custom beam-casters of Rogue Trader or the personal lifeguards of a Spire Nobel.

+ These Ymgarli halfbreeds operated as miners of the Pan-PS Corporation before being exposed. They bear a selection of low-velocity small arms common to void-mining outposts, such as shotguns. +
Ymgarli half-breeds that have infected non-human populations demonstrate similar use of the host species' technology: yet another reason for humans to avoid pollution by trading with or interacting with xenos.


As with their weapons, so to are the vehicles of the Ymgarli forces taken from the society that they infest. Lacking voidcraft of their own, Ymgarli stow away on the craft of other species.

Merchantmen are easier to infiltrate than the strictly controlled craft of the Imperial Navy, so this inevitable draws Ymgarli infiltrators along trade routes. Therefore repurposed commercial and industrial vehicles are common, as are armour unit from Guard forces on both sides of the Nova Terran schism.

Although the armour of civilian vehicles cannot compare to a dedicated war engine, it’s ability to blend in and avoid suspicion until too late is almost unparalleled. When the time comes to emerge from hiding, the Ymgarli cults will play to this strength, favouring ambush tactics and guerilla warfare.




Ymgarli domains +

Beyond the jungle moons of Ymgarl in the galactic north – believed with a reasonable degree of certainty to be their point of origin – the Cult of the Ymgarli have no domains of their own. Instead they infest and subvert the domains of others. Therefore it is impossible to draw their boundaries on a galactic map with any degree of certainty. The chart below shows a selection of confirmed and suspected domains, along with selected major shipping routes.



A notable exception is of course the Ward of Yiid, a pocket empire in [Redacted] and protectorate of the Imperium for over [Redacted] before the truth of its hidden xenos masters were uncovered. There were many vital lessons learned from this embarrassing incident, the not least of which was [Redacted].

+ Dynasts of Yiid +


+ Ymgarli during the Nova Terra Interregnum +

The events of the Nova Terra Interregnum were both a help and a hindrance to the spread of the Ymgarli. As noted earlier in this report, they tend to spread their gene-curse aboard merchant and cargo vessels. The closing of the borders along the Segmentum Pacificus had the temporary effect of limiting this spread. However, as the Interregnum progressed, the Ymgarli were more easily able to spread on board unscrutinised smuggler’s ships that slipped across the boundary unmonitored, and refugee ships fleeing either to or from the breakaway Segmentum.

Unfortunately for the Ymgarli – and fortunately for Humanity – the governments of both arms of hte divided Imperium were equally quick to stamp down on internal rebellion during this time period, fearing a spread of the Nova Terra insurrection or counter-revolution. As a by-product, Ymgarli infestations were perhaps dealt with more efficiently during this period than at other times.

+++

+ The Ymgarli during the Alien Wars +

Ymgarli typically demonstrate little ambition towards empire-building. There were no sector-scale outbreaks in the Imperium during this time, just a steady background level of infestation. However, as rebellions in Imperial territory were swiftly and mercilessly put down during this period, it is possible that some Ymgarli infestations may have been mistaken for general insurrection, and misrecorded as purely human heresies. During this time period Ymgarli were just as likely to clash with Astra Militarum garrisons as they were to receive the attention of Astartes intervention.

Astartes engage germinal-forms in void-station shipping; an all-too-common lair of the Ymgarli.
Of course, this is not to suggest that the threat was minimal – indeed, it is proof of a pernicious and insidious threat, well-adapted to remaining beneath the notice of the Imperium's typical instruments for dealing with xenos. Incidents of Ymgarli infestation in Nova Terra domains during this period go unrecorded.

+ A Scarlet Blade Astartes is engaged by two Ymgarli germinals on Redlaw. +
The Ur-Council's relative liberalism took a lax view of xenos mercenaries – particularly those that could pass as abhuman – and a number of Nova Terran Governors may well have worked with them if they saw the benefit. Equally, it may be the case that they mistook Ymgarli rebellions in their territory for Imperial Loyalists and crushed them just as ferociously.

+++

+ Post Script +

Ymgarlii remain a pervasive threat, but nowhere near the level of danger posed by the greenskins or the fey eldar. They are simply another quirky indigenous anomaly of this galaxy’s biome. I have no doubt that, much like a common tick, they will be eradicated in due course.

I remain, at your service; Inquisitrix Barbari Kills.





+ inload: Black Vespers +

+ inload: The Bleak Vespers +

+ It seems ages since I got a chance to sit down and paint, so it was nice to pick up a brush and continue working on the Death Guard. The batch I started back at the beginning of the month [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] are coming along nicely; and are nearly at the fun stage of picking out details. +

A couple of boltgun-wielding Plague Marines and the characters.
+ The models are great fun to paint, and very relaxing. Lots of quick work offset by slower, more considered washes and glazes. They look pleasingly messy at the moment, and I want to ensure that I keep some of that painterly feel when I start to tighten them up. It's nice to try out different approaches on different forces. +


+ More Plague Marines, including an icon bearer. These are at a slightly earlier stage: the characters at the top have had an additional layer of highlighting, which pushes the contrast further. It's probably a good illustration of what I mean by pleasingly messy – the additional highlights on the upper image are fairly subtle but do a surprising amount to define the edges of the armour plates etc. It only takes a small amount of effort to create impact and move a model from unsatisfying to work you're happy with.  +


+++

+ Death Guard organisation + 

+ As usual, while painting, my mind wanders and I started thinking about the storyline behind the characters. Doing this is not only fun (who doesn't like making up a good story?), but it also serves the very practical purpose of helping you make decisions on colours, and helping to define what things are. An area on a plastic model might contrast better in metallics, for example, but if it's meant to be a flask or a holster, you might choose something more fitting to the material. It's easy to apply dirt and mud to the lowest parts of the figure, but if the model has a dynamic pose, you have to make sure that the upraised leg (or whatever) has the same effect applied. +

+ I know it sounds rather obvious, but spending time thinking about the practicalities of the model as a living being, rather than an lump of metal or plastic, will guide you better than sticking rigidly to an abstract your plan. +

+ Anyway, this musing led to thoughts about the warband as a whole. I hadn't really thought much about it beforehand, which is quite unusual for me. I'd just got stuck in. Fortunately, the new Death Guard Codex has fleshed out the background of the Traitor Legion quite extensively. It's nicely done, providing some canonical structure while remaining very flexible, so no-one's background should feel invalidated. A quick summary:
'The Death Guard consists of seven Plague Companies, each made up of thousands of warriors with their attendant fleets, aircraft, tanks, daemonic cohorts, and super-heavy vehicles, dwarfing modern Space Marine Chapters. Each Plague Company consists of a number of Sepsis Cohorts each made up of roughly seven hundred Plague Marines. Each Sepsis Cohort is divided into two Maladictums, each with seven Colonies which in turn are broken up into seven squads'
- Codex: Death Guard 

+ The names are predictably baroque (one might argue kitsch...) but it gives a certain structure. A typical tabletop army for 40k is going to represent a Colony-sized force. I'd already decided that my army was going to be from the 6th Company, as this Company garrisons the fleet. That gives it the best excuse (in my eyes, at least) for it to be present in Antona Australis. +

+ My Warband will thus represent the Bleak Vespers Colony of the First Maladictum of the Eighth Cohort of the Sixth Company of the Death Guard. The name has a vaguely religious feel, which fits the 'Angels of Death' idea. Vespers is an evening service, which ties in with the Legion's origins as the Dusk Raiders – just a little nod. They'll be a fairly middle of the road group, with no particular specialism beyond an affinity for using bells – both as weapons and in their symbology – owing to their commander, Simargi of Moroz-Morok [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. +

+ That decision gives me a good simple shape for a logo that I can use across the army, and helps suggest weapon swaps and part choices for the future. I'm sure there are some cool Nurgle daemon models, for example, that use bells – and if there aren't, I can convert them! +


+++

+ A few individual shots +


+ Tallyman +


+ Plague Surgeon +


 + Plague Marine with boltgun and plague knife +


 + Plague Marine with boltgun and blight grenade +


 + Plague Marine with boltgun and painted visor. +

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