Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Malfactus Rift - Part 1

Run Through the Jungle

The Cobalt Snake buckled and groaned as it was flung out from a sickening purple rent in the galactic void.
"Where are we, Tirpniz?" Quintus Severus harsh voice came from the command dais behind the pilot's throne.
"All cogitators are scrambled, our nav-data are corrupted. I can't get a location", the Rogue Trader finger darted between flickering command runes.
"I can hear..." the wisper came from inside Kasander's golden mask.
Severus turned to the robed figure next to him. "What do you hear, Astropath?"
"Screams... of terror, of wild joy..."
"Holy Emperor's teeth!" the curse wistled between the Rogue Trader's lips as the image of a raging warp anomaly resolved into the vid-screens.
"... a name... Malfactus..."
"For the Emperor's sake!" Severus' eyes were fixed on the static-laden images of the warp rift "We are on the wrong side of the Cicatrix..."
"I'm pickin up a signal! One parsec away. From Imeria, Ministorum Ermitage class-A planet. Sir, the signal is a nav-beacon..."
"Set our course to it, Tirpniz. We make planetfall. We need whatever nav-data are stored there if we want to rejoin the Indomitus Crusade. Gentlemen, get your weapons ready and pray for your souls. The Ghoul Stars have never been a peaceful place."

They had followed the signal to its source, Sanctuarium Lodovicum, in the equatorial jungles of Imeria. Borebettles and Sliterfangs had attacked them, and they even heard the roaring of the gigantic Imerian Tigers in the distance, but they were finally approaching the Sanctuarium.

The buzzing of flies suddenly filled the air, heralding the arrival of a band of foul servants of Nurgle.

Crude orkish guns barked, bullets flying in all directions. Inaccurate as they were, they still managed to slow down the hulking Plague Marines.

"Stop the Heretics! Don't let them get to the Sanctuarium!" Severus' voices rung with contempt as his retinue smashed onto the diseased Marines.

Firing wildly into the melee, the orks advanced toward Sanctuarium Lodovicum.

Battered by Severus' daemon hammer and XA-305's buzzing saw, the power armoured Marines fled back into the jungle, leaving their Lord to face the Inquisitor.

As their weapons locked, Severus spoke through grinned teeth. "Give me your name, so that the Emperor might know who I have defeated".
"Pustiferus Lungbane. I've served your corpse-god, and he has no claim on me", the answer came in a spat of caughing. "Nor have you. What I came for is already gone. May the blessing of Nurgle be with you, Inquisitor".
With a waft of deasesed air, Pustiferus teleported away, leaving Severus to stare at the orks ransacking the ruins of Sanctuarium Lodovicum and screaming in frustration as the nav-data held there proved to be corrupted beyond hope.

"That's Throttle's Dust Hogz" said Balthasar Tirpniz, ejecting an empty clip from his bolt pistol. "I might cut a deal with them. We go a while back, me and the 'boss. Good hands in a fight, if the loot is to their liking."
"Rogue Trader, you are treading very close to heresy" Severus' voice was cold. "But I might make good use of your questionable acquaintances if those Heretics show up again."
The deal was cut quickly. Equal shares of killing and first pick on the loot. What would happen if valid nav-data were found at the other cogitarium station they had deteced was left unspoken. Keeping their distance, Severus' retinue and the Dust Hogz waded through the jungle.

As Tirpnitz, Dexter and Severus spotted the station and closed onto it, Grandfather's Seeds of Putrefaction emerged from the vegetation, bolters blazing. XA-305 and Preacher Ian Tull moved to bar their way, the Dust Hogz offering inaccurate covering fire.

The air burst in a putrid green glow as Pustiferus Lungbane materialised close to Preacher Ian. The hulking Plague Lord smashed his way throught the priest and slammed onto Severus.

"Those data belong to me, dead dog's servant" gurgled Pustiferus. Caught by surprise, Severus barely managed to parry the Lord's onslaught before triggering the teleporter of his armour.
In a rare display of lack of self-preservation, Tirpniz jumped forward, bolt pistols blazing and cursing at himself for his stupidity.

In a heartbeat, the unconscious Rogue Trader was floating down the river. Of the Dust Hogz, there was no sign. Pustiferus caughing laugh sounded throught he jungle as he downloaded the nav-data.

Friday, 17 November 2017

A Tale of Treachery

Triumph & Treachery at Warhmmer World

On 21 and 22 October I've joined a bunch of great hobbists at Warhammer World for the Triumph & Treachery II event. The event used the Triumph & Treachery rules fro multi-player battles from the General's Handbook 2017. Although I had not used them before, I knew I was in for a treat, as with all the narrative game rules GW has been realising lately. And I wasn't disappointed! We were also given a deck of cards for all the Secret Objectives and Treacherous Acts you can use in game. They're a really nice little kit I'm sure I'll use in plenty more games.

For my army, I took my recently finished Free Companies, bumping them up to 1000 points with the addition of Gudrun's Grudgebreakers, my tribute to Long Drong's Slayers, and their ship cook Steve 'Seagull' with his Kitchen Crew. Who doesn't love an old style Halfling Hot Pot Catapult?

The two days were an absolute blast of laughter, with plenty of 'Shenanings!' shouts as people scrambled for their Treacherous Acts cards and hatched all kind of mischief on their opponents. I was so taken in the games that I often forgot to take pictures, but here are some from my first game, featuring the dreaded Mongo by Nigel Bartlett (Best Army Winner), some disgusting servants of Nurgle by Rob Nixon (Triumph Champion) and a 60-strong Moonclan Grot horde that really was scary!

I wanted to show the character of my Free Companies throughout the event. As mercenaries, that was easy. It was just a matter of selling my services to any other army in need of help or some extra arms...until it suited me of course! This lead to some really funny moments.
As we were playing Battle for the Artefact, a Lord of Change grabbed the artefact and tried to run away. I slowed it down with a Treacherous Act, making it stop exactly where I needed it, close to a Baleful Realmgate. As we rolled for initiative, I agreed for a truce with the player most of my units were engaged in combat if he let me have the next turn so that I could get to the Lord of Change. He won the roll off and stuck to his part of the deal. I moved Gudrun, a Dispossesed Unforged, through another Realmgate and he safely came out of the other, 3.5" away from the Greater Deamon. For good measure, in the shooting phase I shoot all I had at the guy that let me have the turn. And then Gudrun charged the Lord of Change brandishing his Relic Blade. We both played Treacherous Acts to boost combat skills, but they canceled each other out. Gudrun still hit on 3s. Out of 6 attacks, 5 hit, then 4 wounded. Tzeentch was looking the other way as the Lord of Change failed to save all of them. The Relic Blade doubled Gudrun's Damage to 2, and as he was fighting a CHAOS model, that was doubled again. 4x2x2=16 wounds...And the Lord of Change vanished back to the Realm of Chaos! Pity I was so excited about the whole thing and didn't take a single picture. But I did for the other epic moment.

Gudrun, Steve 'Seagull' and his Kitchen Crew were charged by a Mournghoul. Nasty beast that! The revenant quickly dispatched Gudrun, but then, the Halflings put up a surprising resistance (bad dices for the Mournghoul, good ones for the Halflings, you know). This gave time for a retinue of Stormcast Paladins I was allied with to move in. They pounded the revenant and then moved on, leaving Steve as the only survivor.

I had Kingslayer as my secret objective and the Lord Celestant leading the Paladins was already Steve took at shot at him. After all, it was not the Lord Celestant that had saved him and the orders were clear: kill the enemy leaders! As usually, however, even if he needed 3+ to hit and can re-rolls ones, I rolled a 2.

These, and countless more acts of backstabbing, won a name for the Free Companies, even if they didn't win a single battle. But, at the end of the day...guess what? I had been voted the Most Treacherous Opponent by two, if not three, of the other players I faced in each of the five games!

Now, getting the trophy was a big satisfaction, but the biggest price was having a lot of fun playing against really cool armies. Just look at them on the the pictures taken by the Event Team people! If you're curious to see who the talented painters and crafty generals that shared in the day triumphs are, go here.
And if you ever have the chance, don't miss on the opportunity to join events at Warhammer World. It is really a great experience.

Friday, 10 November 2017

The Thing in the Gloomwood

A Dark Age of Sigmar Monster

"The Thing in the Gloomwood, eh?" asked the duardin veteran "Believe me, manling, you don't want to stumble upon it. I did, and for the beard of my ancestors, I'm not ashamed to say that I run away, as fast as I could". He paused, chewing on his pipe and puffing out blueish smoke, his eyes veiled by memories. "Hrm...the Reclaimed, they tell it was once a pack of Gleamwolves. Noble beasts, touched by the energies of Chamon and Azyr both. Their pelts, hard as steel, sparkled as if dotted with starts, and their howling could be heard anytime Azyrheim appeared in the night sky. When Chaos came, the Gleamwolves fought hard to defend their home, then the Silvered Forest. For years, they kept skaven and gors out of its boundaries. But Chaos is insidious. A sickness fell on the lesser creatures of the forest. And as the Gleamwolves fed on them, it took root deep inside the noble beasts. But they didn't die. They were overtaken by a raging frenzy and soon not even the mighty Warriors of Chaos dared to enter the Forest. In their frenzy, the Gleamwolves haunted down every other animal in the Forest, gorging on their tainted flesh. And when no other living being but the trees was left, the Gleamwolves turned onto each other. One night, their howls and growls could be heard for miles around. The tree themselves heaved as the Gleamwolves fought each other. Until only the pack leader was left, the flesh of his mates for him to feed upon. And then, as soon as he had picked the first carcass clean, it changed. His body bulged, the glimmering pelt peeling away. As a bloody flower it split and as one the limbs and heads of anything the Gleamwolves had devoured came out, screaming and wailing. And so they still do. Them, and anything else the Thing has eaten ever since. You don't believe me? Why do you think I fled? My companions were screamming at me, emerging from its body as their feet still poked out from those wolfish jaws. It was worse than death. And yes, I cared for my life more than I did for my honour".

The Thing in the Gloomwood is my entry for the Ex Profundis Monster Competition, at once a tribute to Mordheim's Thing in the Woods and to John Carpenter's The Thing.

The Thing started as the main body of a Tyranid Mucolid Spore which I balanced on the rumps of a Chaos Hound and a few Hormagaunts arms. Then around it I dotted arms and heads from the Chaos Forsaken, the old Chaos Mutation sprue, the Genestealers kit and a few more gribbly bits. Finally, I merged two Chaos Hounds, glued them to the front of the Thing and sculpted some fur around the joint.

Jouni Mikkola, on the Dark Age of Sigmar Facebook group, noted that the Hounds needed to be better merged than I had achieved. As I was rewatching John Carpenter's The Thing for inspiration, I decided to replicate the blossoming of the Thing, an effect I'm most pleased with! So, thank you Jouni for pointing me in the right direction!

For the painting, I wanted to stick close to Carpenter's Thing and followed the GW Paint app suggestion for inflamed flesh: Bugman's Glow base, Carrobourg Crimsom wash, Druchii Violet wash and Kislev Flesh hedge highlight, although I went for a heavybrush instead and added Blood for the Blood God where the model texture suggested a lesion.

The bug legs were basecoated with Abadon Black, hedge highlighted with Dawnstone, washed with Drakenhoff Nightshade and then liberally coated in Blood for the Blood God, achieving the same bloodied black of the segmented legs that the Things sprouts out during its transformations.

The Hounds were drybrushed in greys and whites, to match the colours of the dog form of the Thing, and again treated with Blood for the Blood God.

To make the heads I'd dotted around the body more visible, especially because they are in rather hidden spots, I've gone for a greenish, putrid flesh tone.

Wherever the model texture suggested a chitin layer, I've used the same technique of the bug legs, but replacing Blood for the Blood God with Gloss Varnish to get the shiny feeling of a scarab.

The tentacles, eyes stalks and glands were instead painted in shades of green and given a coat of Gloss Varnish to suggest slime. The feathers on one of the forsake arms were done in yellow to tie the Thing in with my Tzeentchian models as they all have yellow feathers. Finally, bones and teeth were painted in a dirty, worn ivory.

One head was not painted like the others, but rather as the main body of the Thing. What else I could have done? It's the double head from the Chaos Mutation Sprue sculpeted exactly like the one in the movie!

My Thing will soon see some gaming action, but not as an AoS Spawn. Rather, it will feature as a NPC in the Inq28-insipred 40k campaign I'm about to start with Warboss Kurgan and a few other friends, The Malfactus Rift. That's why I've combined grey and sand as colours for the base, so that the Thing can fit with all my models. Really looking forward to see it bring terror to the battlefield!

The Harrowmark Run, Finale

Tower of Screaming Death

"In the name of Sigmar, stop where you are!" the order, so unlikely in the accursed gloom of the Harrowmark, sounded through the air as a white feathered arrow wistled close to Kalyustar and his captains to tunk onto a gnarled trunk. A grim figure emerged from Wortbad graveyard. Three ragged militiamen escorted him, weapons at the ready.
"You are looking for the orruks, wizard" he said, zweihander levelled toward Kalyustar "But not to deliver the God-king's justice. You have been tainted by this land".
Kalyustar's men shuffled uncomfortably around the wizard. They knew there was some truth in those words, yet they were bound to Kalyustar.
"In fact, Herr van Toorn, we are looking for you" replied the wizard, only half-lieing "The Gilded Hand Elders still need your services. We've been sent to rescue you and your men".
"This, we will see" came the Witch Hunter's reply "Now, we have to stop the orruks. They're headed back to their hideout, the Freebooter's Tower, with their prize. We have to stop them before their clumsiness brings further grief to this land".
"Then we can not linger, much is at stake".
"Indeed, wizard. But keep that in mind: I'm watching you. Any sign of treason and your life will be worth less than those of the orruks".

Singing crude shanties and shouting at each other, the Ogresuns were making their way to the Tower amidst gusty winds and squally showers. Wailing and moaning, the Hordshal's Host also appeared, ready to block their path. The Freeguild mercenaries advanced, a rain of crossbow bolts felling the greenskinz' vanguard.

"Karol, Lucius! Hold the orruks! Fernando, with me!" ordered Kalyustar. van Toorn nodded and led his men on the wizard's trail. A crew of grots ducked the incoming crossbow fire and shouting obscenity engaged the Marksmen.

The Hordshal cavalry pressed hard for the Ogresuns moving to bar the entrance to the Tower. The White Lady split from them and drifting above the ruddy mist came to exact her revenge on Kalyustar. One of the Fencers counter-charged to protect the wizard.

Dark, Shyishan energies swirled around Kalyustar, but this time they were of no help. The White Lady's sword darted and the wizard was unhorsed.
"So is the unfaithful repaid" muttered van Toorn "Men, stop the Vampire killing him. He must answer to a higher power".
Silver bullets and arrows hit the gaunt figure moments before van Toorn and the militia fell on her.

With Kalyustar no longer able to lead them, the Fencers turned to support Karol against Salty Ogbad. As the spectral cavalry still hold the orruks outside the Tower, Jorge rushed inside.

While the marksmen were still pinned by the grots, the Hordshal's spectral hosts assaulted the Tower. The hexwraiths rode over Whalebelly and moved to circle the rest of the Ogresuns.

Jorge braced himself, ready to sell his life dearly. van Toorn and the White Lady fell on each other's sword, giving the common soldiery a chance to shovel the unconscious bodies of the wizard and witch hunter away from the fight.

A chilling scream heralded Jorge's demise. As the ghosts swarmed inside the Tower, Salty Ogbad called for a truce. Eyeing the orruks with suspicion, the Marksmen nonetheless lowered their weapons.

As one, orruks and humans assulted the Tower, sending what ghosts they could back to the Underworld they had come from. The rest of the Ogresuns lined up to stop Lyrd Radclyffe from reaching the Tower.

But it was as if nothing could stop the Ryders. Not even a well placed hail of bolts prevented them from riding throught the orruk line and then trampling Salty Ogbad.

In a last ditch attempt, the Marksmen charged the Ryders. Ghostly schytes flashed as the ghosts in the Tower repelled the last militia man. The winds blew triumphantly. The Harrowmark was still firmly in the grasp of Nagash's servants.

In the pale moonlight, Kalyustar came to his senses. van Toorn still laid unconscious next to him. Of the Freeguild mercenaries, there was no sign. For a fleeting moment, his thoughts lingered on the idea of draining the man's soul and ridding himself of the Church of Sigmar's attentions. Yet, men like van Toorn could have their uses when having to survive in the Harrowmark. The wizard turned to tend to the Witch Hunter's wounds.