Fulgrim rising.

Evening all. Apologies for the prolonged period of absence - things have been very busy here and it's time to break my silence. Hasn't been a bad week to be the Emperor's favourite son, as she who thirsts is smiling upon us. Firstly, Forge World have announced the forthcoming release of a beautiful sculpt of the Emperor's Children Primarch as part of their Horus Heresy character series - further images of which were released yesterday following the Horus Heresy weekender. It's absolutely stunning: Simon Egan's done such an excellent job of capturing both the majesty and raw power of this character in a really dynamic pose - I absolutely love it.

Now, on to the other Fulgrim - that being me - I'm pleased to announce that I've been offered a role at GW HQ and have happily accepted. So, all being well, I shall be leaving London and heading to the midlands in the next few weeks. I'm really excited about this opportunity and am looking forward to taking up the job and getting stuck in, although I'm not going to say anything further about what the position is (so please don't ask). What this will mean for Isstvan, however, I haven't decided as yet, but at the very least, it'll mean a further break in service, possibly up until our Realms of Chaos meeting in July.

Meanwhile, I'd like to say a quick thanks to Neil, Peter, Rise of the Magi, Tears of Envy and JB for all their help and support over the past few months - and naturally, to everyone reading, commenting and discussing the rich background of this magnificent hobby and having made keeping this blog one of the most joyous pastimes I've ever had.

-May the Emperor protect.

Short intermission.

Sorry for the delay in showing some WIP photos of the RoC work. I'm going to take a short break from the blog for a week or so.

Normal service should resume shortly.

Realm of Chaos - XXV.

A departure today - not just from the usual Imperial 40k bias that I lean towards on the blog, but also from the way that I would ordinarily write about projects; typically, I'll report on an event after it's occurred with a longer series of posts documenting the miniatures brought and the games played; today, though, marks the start of more traditional log documenting a foray into the Old World. This year sees the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness - a seminal publication which began my continuing obsession with the GW IP, and, as well as making me feel a bit old, I thought it an opportune moment to mark this quarter century by instigating a Chaos Champions campaign with some of my fellow gamers. Now, I'm not the only person to have decided to instigate a similar endeavour this year, and I highly recommend Realm of Chaos 80s blog for a great example of some excellent gamers doing likewise. However, I'd decided to steer away slightly from simply collecting and rebuilding vintage war-bands, instead allowing participants to utilise any GW miniatures - including the recent GW plastic chaos miniatures - making those trickier chaos mutations slightly easier to model; and whilst this year is only the twenty-fifth anniversary of Slaves to Darkness, we'll also be using the rules in it's twin, The Lost and the Damned, to enable gamers to build war-bands of Nurgle and Tzeentch, as well as those devoted to Khorne and Slaanesh.

For those unaware of the books, the Realm of Chaos tomes provide a massively detailed system for generating Champions of Chaos, with their attendant war-bands, and particular gifts and rewards from their patron power. War-bands fight it out in order to gain the favour of their God, increasing in power and status, attracting further chaotic miscreants, and hopefully achieving apotheosis - ascending to daemonhood. However, the road to power is a precarious and dangerous one, and most fool mortals are turned to gibbering spawn - mad, feral half-things, detached from sanity and biology - rather than arising to sit at their patron's side. The first book, Slaves to Darkness was devoted to the bitter rival forces of Slaanesh and Khorne, whilst the second enormous tome, The Lost and the Damned, details the rival factions of Nurgle and Tzeentch. Full of grisly imagery and dark tales of foreboding the volumes still encapsulate that true dark gothicry of the Old World for me, and I'd long relished building another war-band to reflect this grim majesty.

So, having invited five other gamers to join, I have the pleasure of being able to blog the progress of some of these extraordinary talents here on Isstvan: taking part are Peter 'PDH' Hudson, Tears of Envy, Neil101, RiseOfTheMagi, John Blanche, and myself. I should point out that as GW employees, I won't be blogging the progress of Jon, Tammy and John, but with permission should have some shots of their completed war-bands after the project is completed. Each member was allowed to chose their patron and select from a series of starting races - generating one from the standard table; choosing a human; or daring to risk one of the 'Children of Chaos' (Beastman, Minotaur, Centaur or Dragon Ogre) - and we began to generate our fledgling Champions when we met in February to play our Arkke Wald games. To move our narrative along slightly, each player generated their Champion, with their initial attendant retinue, and rolled for a further two sets of followers. We also allowed Champions to generate three separate rewards from their patron in line with these developments to represent their shift a little further down their path to damnation.

As well as building and painting the above, each player was asked to consider building a piece of terrain reflective of the Chaos Wastes to bring with them (should they have time) and to log the progress of their Champion in that Beowulf-ian saga-poem style as outlined in The Lost and The Damned, to be catalogued at the end of the campaign.

Ensuring that all four of the brethren were represented, we set to choosing our patrons as follows -

  • Tears of Envy - Tzeentch
  • John Blanche - Tzeentch
  • Neil 101 - Tzeentch
  • Peter - Nurgle
  • RiseOfTheMagi - Khorne
  • Myself - Slaanesh

Seems that the great trickster is in the ascendancy!

Tomorrow, I'll outline the individual war-bands as they currently stand and have the first in a series of WIP photos I've been sent by everyone.

Life in the Old World II.

Some great images here by Breugel, William Strang and others, including contributions sent to me by Neil and Nathan Naskin. Some really interesting things going on in the background of these as well as their central subject matter.  

Arkke Retour - iv.

To wrap up my reporting of last weekend's events, I thought I'd finish with an overview of the miniatures sent to us from participants round the world. Peter had been working in secret on this project for some time and had enlisted the help of some extraordinarily talented people; each miniature sent was conceived as an NPC within the Arkke setting, and also as a gift to JB. Alongside this, Peter had been working on several NPCs of his own. I have to say that I think Peter must have been working his socks off on this, but his hard work really paid off - witnessing each of these miniatures being revealed on the table as they were encountered by various gangs was quite something. He really did himself, and us, proud.

In no particular order, here are the motley crew: first up Peter's excellent Medicant Priest and attendant banner bearer based on a JB painting - the freehand work on these chaps is stunning, I hadn't even noticed the skull on the Priests's tabard until this morning as I was sifting through these photos.

Next up is Kari Hernesniemi's Stryderre - the face on this miniature is incredible: so much detail, and I love the little incidences like the amputated hand. There's a lot more on this miniature here over at Spiky Rat Pack.

This is Tears of Envy's pre-Heresy Emperor's Children marine. Seriously beautiful paintwork on this. ToE has a distinctive and measured painting technique all of her own, and it was interesting to see this style on a Marine (as well as on her stunning Dark Eldar raider she brought along, which I may post some images of later if she allows). I think one of the high-points of the day was seeing all these different painting styles next to one another. 

This is Legion, by Stefan KrautScientist of Eternal Hunt. I love the Mechanicum, and this Tech-Priest really capture their essence as well as being a particularly dynamic conversion, and fitting incredibly well with the board. There's a lot more information, including a very detailed blog with a step-by-step guide to how he was built  (it's quite some work) over on Stefan's blog.

Speaking of the Mechanicum - this beast is extraordinary. I completely failed to get a good shot of it as it rampaged across the board, though, unfortunately. A prefect example of Neil's bonkers levels of creativity: Metalspinax - servitor beast. 

Two lovely miniatures here by Jakob Nielsen: the Lone Fighter is a tiny little thing but absolutely seeps character. Poor little sod fancied himself as a gun for hire but ended up being thrown in a charnel house by JB's rampaging gangers. Below this is Hanin, the Sump Huntress, excellent use of parts (I think JRN's the only person I can forgive for chopping up Femme Militant miniatures) and again the level of detail on the face is staggering - I'm sure Scandinavians see in different degrees of sharpness than us lesser Europeans. Further images of Hanin can be found on JRN's blog.

Another of Peter's miniatures: the Creeping Darkness. I think this FW miniature is one of the best Nurgle miniatures available, but even with a few simple conversions, Peter's made him his own - super sinister with his black lantern... To contrast, and for further proof of what a talented painter Peter is, below the Creeping Darkness is Mother Head, almost it's complete opposite. Peter emailed us some photos of this model some time ago as he was painting her, and his skill at painting whites and pastel shades is superb. Tricky stuff painting such monochrome miniatures without them looking flat, but these are both perfect.

Also, before I continue with the photographs, the day wasn't just about miniatures: even those whose time was constrained wanted to take part. Stefan of First Point of Aries had specially composed a piece of music to be played a certain juncture within the game, effecting all on the table. This made my day, really - our very own music! Talk about immersive...  

Unfortunately not all the miniatures arrived on time, postal services being what they are. This meant that sadly we didn't get to see everything on the table - although it did mean that certain sections of the game had a certain old-school vibe to them ;)

Peter had also built a tonne of smaller creatures for the games - my favourites being the Gloomskull hatchlings (a perfect conversion of parts, which funnily enough I'd mentioned to Peter a few months before ;)

And finally, I feel like I shouldn't really have a favourite, but I can't help myself and I think this beast is an absolute triumph - the concept of a living coffin with a soul-bound psyker entombed within really captures my imagination. I think the concept and execution are pretty much perfect. I absolutely love this thing. There's a lot more information on it's design (including some rules that Peter had designed for it) over on Spiky Rat Pack.

So, there ends the more linear reports from last weekend; there may well be some more in-game narratives to come, but for now, I need to focus my attention elsewhere. Up next is Molotov's Inqvitational 2013, which I'm hoping to attend, although might not be able to unless I get some work in before the end of this month (words of advice for young people: get a trade, never freelance!) - following that, there's a very special anniversary this year, it being the 25 years since the release of Realms of Chaos - Slaves to Darkness, so expect some incursions into the Old World for that, and hot on the heels of those two, our Finnish friends are joining us in Nottingham for some good old fashioned Confrontation. Busy times.

Arkke Retour - iii.

As the Arkke slips back into real space, the boughs of the Yggdrassilliume shiver and rattle in the wind.
Hearing it's clarion call, their scrying confirmed, Hephestus and Lod emerge from their hovel in the Amphitheatre of Silence.
The Mangii Touts, having sought the aid of a witch in order to guide them along the pilgrim route emerge from the sunken hand cart tracks.
The Cult of the True Journey emerge on the far side of the sump seeking the wisdom of the Pandoricalle.
Making progress into the gloom of the Arkke, the buzzmenne discover they are not alone. The lone fighter seems lost and bewildered. Edgy and trigger happy, the buzzmenne despatch the poor soul on sight. 
Advancing unseen, the Cult make their way across the sump. 
The gangers of the Mouldii Waarps lay eyes on a warrior god clad in armour of pale purple, inlaid with gold. His heavily armoured proportions vast and distorted like those of a giant. 
 The beautiful and terrifying vision sows blind panic and discord amongst the Mouldii Waarps, scattering them back to the pontoons of the sump. 

 Careering along the destroyed track on a knackered hand cart, several buzzmenne thugs are scattered as the cart crashes to an abrupt halt. Before their wits can be gathered the armoured giant passes through the battered gangers as a ghost or vestigial memory of the Arkke's past lives. Truly this place is cursed. 

Passing by long-forgotten charnel houses, the Mangii Touts wyrd is enthralled by a beauteous vision emerging from the sump mists.

Meanwhile, Hephestus and Mordekei press their hands into the dirt of the Arkke, their combined mental concentrations propelling Lod into savage combat with an interloper, set to bring darkness to the boughs of the Yggdrassillium tree. 

 Having been scattered back to the rickety sump pipe bridges, the Mouldii Waarps engage in combat with the Cult of the True Journey - their distinctive blue robes shining in the gloom. Duelling on the slippery pipes is precarious and savage indeed. The Cult zealot is thrust from the bridge, falling awkwardly into a vessel commandeered by more of the cult, overbalancing the craft and knocking it's passenger into the filthy mire.  

The growing commotion aboard the Arkke brings other ne'er do wells into the area - some using the cover of the arga barga to pass by unnoticed, others for more nefarious reasons. 
Stryderre, banished and ancient fighter emerges seeking revenge on those who cursed him to a life of hell alone in the treacherous depths of the Arkke. 
Legion, Legion, he is many; Legion, Legion he is one. 
Taking advantage of the chaos emerging outside, Legion bursts from an abandoned service tunnel to try to break through the Arkke. 
Hephestus surveys the interlopers emerging from their holes, scanning the interlopers trying to ascertain who poses the greatest threat to the Pandoricalle. In the mire Hephestus notices the faint tang of one of his bretheren on the air - the scrying pool has not lied. 
With the Shippe hanging in real space, a Medicant Priest transports aboard, staggered and outraged by the carnage and debauchery within. 
From the relative safety of his pontoon, the Mouldii Waarps's Bone Witch seeds discord amongst the hated Mangii Touts. The gasmasked loons, now rallied, jeer and howl as the opposing gangers break. 
Rampaging from the carnage, the vast bulk of the Metalispinax servitor comes crashing through the once hallowed chambers. 

Enthralled, the Legion Tech-Adept is drawn toward the ancient and revered creature. 
Taking advantage of the escalating discord as pilgrim day reaches it's apex, Mother Head drops from above, taking pop shots at the Cult of the True Journey as she makes a dash toward the Yggdrassillium, site of her ire.  

The Cult leader tries in vain to halt the slow progress of the Mouldii Waarps outriders. 
Appearing again, as if on a loop, the gilded giant begins his slow passage through the processual corridor of the Arkke, scattering the Cult scouts before him. 
Unperturbed, her hatred of the Yggdrassil far outweighing even the terror induced by the armoured giant, Mother Head breaks for the base of the tree. 
Enraged and delighted in equal measure by the carnage about her, the Yggdrassill spreads it's roots into the depths of the Arkke, seeking to sup of the blood of the fallen. 
Unable to break free from the lure of the sump Siren, the Mouldii Waarps enlisted wyrd edges ever closer toward the bank of the Sump. 
The Yggdrassil shudders in delight as it's roots are enriched by the fallen. 

As the Mendicant Priest engages with the Mangii Touts, the Yggdrassil roots lashing at all combatants, a deep wailing noise reverberates along the edges of the world as the Arkke slips back into the Empyrean. The sounds of prayer, dread and battle resonate in the hearts of all aboard the craft, shattering hope and distracting combatants.
As the sounds slowly begin to recede, the Mangii Touts take advantage of the Priest's weakness, slaying him and feeding his corpse to the Ygg roots. 
Finding his prey, Stryderre rushes the buzzmenne and tears them apart - leaping in a frenzy from fighter to fighter. 

The steersman of the Cult engages with the leader of the Mouldii Waarps, the horrifying form of the Metalispinax looming in the distance, panicked and seemingly fleeing.
Legion emerges from the gloom, shadowing the Metalispinax. 
Enraged by the audacity of Mother Head's coup, Hephestus summons all his mental strength, reaching out and lifting a vast cloud of debris from the wreck of the Arkke floor, thrusting them into her back and stopping her advance. 

Buoyed by the death of Mother Head, and drinking of the slaughter, the roots of the Yggdrassil spread further than ever before. 

Speeding along the tracks of the Hand cart ruins, Hanin, legendary Sump Huntress emerges into the pilgrimage antechamber - her sights set firmly on her prey, the Metalspinax.   

Far above the Yggdrassil, the roosting gloom skull seizes the opportunity to attack, blinding various fighters and unleashing it's hatchlings into the Arkke. 

The binary screams of the gloomskulls awaken nests of feral servo-skulls, scurrying into the mire to claim their foe. 

Lod looks on as the rival Wyrd is drawn to his death in the foetid waters of the sump, his vestigial arms shivering involuntarily in delight. 

Sensing his foe is momentarily distracted, the gloomskull hatchling takes the opportunity to strike, blinding Lod in the process. Displacing himself away from the assault, Lod snese the close presence of the bretheren, Navigator Thirwell, stumbling lost through the gloom. As one, Mordekei and Lod turn and begin marching toward the site of the psychic disruption. 

With the psychic energies reaching a fever pitch, a great hulking beast lurches from the darkness, it's scrying mirror visage and psychic shield hood transmitting waves of nausea through the throng of witches. The great living coffin and mummified corpse of a fallen psyker, it's soul bound as ancient and living war engine rampaging toward the site of the distrubance. 

 Sickened by the living weapon, Mordekei strengthens his resolve to fell the great beast, summoning all his psychic reserves in defence. With the frenzy of psychic chanting reaching an crescendo, Mordekei opens his cloak to face the beast, his skin a mottled sea of a thousand eyes opening to allow the power of the warp to seep through into the Arkke. Malefic creatures aroused by the great surge of power slip into the ship attacking all in their way. 

Steadfast in his goal, Lod lurches at the lost Navigator, knocking him to the floor, and throwing him over his vast shoulder. 
'We were once as you are, you shall be as we. Come brother. Home we go.'

 Awakened by the psychic maelstrom outside, the Pandoricalle emerges from her hovel, relishing in the franzy and bloodlust outside, marvelling at the invigorated Yggddrassil tree.  
 Stepping from the bloodied boughs of the Ygg, the Pandoricalle retires with the Navigatorii into the Amphiteatre of Silence. The binding ritual of the Sun King to be enacted upon their captured prey as outside the carnage rages unabated and the screams etch into the night.