I fully understand and respect Neil's decision to close his blog: blogging is a difficult pastime and a real drain on time, energy and will, and sometimes it can just seem more work than it's worth. That said, I've been particularly saddened about the decision as Neil's battle-reports, thoughts, writings and researches have been a consistent source of inspiration, and the blog has been one of my 'go to' sites for some time whenever I had the urge to submerge myself into the true darkness of the 40k universe, sci-fi history, or just to bear witness to Neil's incredible and deranged models, and I shall miss it's presence.
With that in mind, as a lasting tribute, here in full is his last exceptional battle report from our meeting at Warhammer World at the beginning of February: myself, Peter Hudson, Jon Flindall, John Blanche and Neil, engage forces on a 40k feral world.
Neil's epic text follows in full after the page break.
Opus Maius: gone but not forgotten.
Last weekend I was fortunate enough to partake in another gaming session along with Tim (Fulgrim of the wonderful Tears Of Isstvaan Blog) Jon ( Rise of the Magi ) Peter ( PDH who lets be honest needs little introduction ) and a man who needs no intro at all .. Mr John Blanche. It was planned to be another trip into the Arrke ( where the Pandoricalle resides ) But we postponed this for a month in favour of a little less organised impromptu gaming session. Let me just take this opportunity to thank them as , even though I have a few game under my belt with these guys , every time I travel down to warhammer World to play with them its such good fun :-) Relaxed and genuine comradeship Folks who know me from dakka know I know little to nothing with regards to rules and as such I would happily just take the opportunity to drink beer eat all day veggie breakfasts and look at the pretties . Fortunately everyone else knows the rules inside out and can easily accommodate those of us without a Sage Jervis Johnson like mastery.
As it was a game that was somewhat improvised, we quickly had to decided what we wanted to do instead. I am always looking for excuses to build stuff and had a dakka project on the back burner for over a year . A collection of harpies , This seemed like a perfect opportunity to get something finished. I had already mocked up a few potential conversions that were sat in my bits box so , out they came and got a few extra companions to boot. A quick and dirty paintjob and I was ready.
John had been working on a small gang of old curmudgeons based upon one of his Arkke ship pitslave ganger's, a right grumpy looking mean old giffer who had garnered a bit of a following amongst us, after our last Arrke game.
As we discussed possible scenarios for the game , I was struck by the coincidence of John making a grumpy old men gang and myself making harpies, I have a thing for Greek Myth and the tale ofPhyneus sprang to mind. Recalling the old Jason and the Argonauts movie and this JB drawing I remembered from my fighting fantasy youth.
“ im phinius, no im phineos, no im phineous no im phineus, no im phynios, no im phinyus, no im phyneus ......... “
we talked at length about potential scenarios , a close second was the story of a doomed Plasma refinery orbiting the gas giant Borrus , rent in two by a cataclysmic explosion , and now on a degrading orbit into its fiery death . ( inspired by the raft of Medusa ) the residents clambering over themselves to reach higher ground as the lower decks become irradiated, full of mutants and solar cults , as space pirates take advantage and plunder its drifting carcass....
But the prize went to Tim came up with a great story and more importantly a great game scenario. Fortunately it tied well into the Harpy Phyneas story and Johns aptly named Old shufflyngge doddermen . The crux of the scenario was that a feral world had been located that is somehow connected to Arkke Ship, If you walk far enough on the said planet you would arrive upon the Arkke. This was abit of brilliance as it enable us to have our cake and eat it , we could continue our narrative of the Arrke without having to sacrifice our new plans.
Tim alluded to a Slaanesh cult that had crossed over the barrier from the Warp riding Arkke and onto the planet , in hopes of summoning a demon.( at this point PDH revealed he had a Slaanesh warband already painted, not a new project. But still rather cool imo.
PDH's Warand move towards the monolith via the ruined temples at first light
John's Old Shuffledodders and My own harpies were the natives of said planet who were constantly squalling over food and land, Into this Mix Jon'sInquisitor Helsmarck arrives to interrupt the summoning of deamonettes. ( Lovely ghost;y things that Tim painted the evening before )
None of us had much time to prepare, I recall John saying that the shuffledodders where his quickest paint job yet, I think all done bar the original within an afternoon/evening.
Even though I too was pressed for time , I managed to knock up a bit of custom scenery , I had been researching stone circles for some time for a potential Albion project, and the feral world setting seemed like a great opportunity to build one, again just done in an evening so do please forgive us any glaring mistakes such mould lines ect..
Well if you read all that you deserve a pic break.
The Garamantees call them the Doddermen on account of their ungainly gait. A lopsided waddle that threatens to topple the bellicose antiquarian's arse over tit. A perambulation that would be comedic if you dared laugh at them. Not many dare laugh though, at least not to their enfeebled geriatric toothless maw. Fore to do so would bring about a vociferous pummelling.
Hoary fossils in the guise of quavering meatsacks . Be forewarned, these bonehouses draw their fortitude from a well of vim and vigour.. The sinewy pith in each and everyone.. unyielding.
John's Shuffledodders Pestilent Cudgel Kosh's who are much tougher than they look.
Their overripe guts fit burst a cloud of noxious gas upon the un weary
The Original ganger is second to last on the right.
John's Inquisitor Nocturbolous
A model that uses that Tartaros model as its base.
Note the twin plasma gas tanks and gold leaf
Within the +REDACTED+ . There lay a planet not commonly charted upon Imperial maps. In fact the Imperium would be wholly ignorant of its existence, were it not for the veiled scrutiny of a clandestine Inquisitor known only as Nocturbulous.
Unknown is the reason why or how such a planet ( known from henceforth as X Tentatively classified as a class c Feral world ) came to be so shrouded from the imperial gaze. What is known thus far however , is that X is a Hausdorff space anomaly. A fixed point in Time and space. A world with a erroneous duality of shifting Warp space and real space. A bridging planet into the Ætherium .
Tentative steps have been taken to study understand this correlation with the warp. Primarily by members of the Ordo Malleus but increasingly by other powerful Imperial organisations.
Very few Inquisitors know of X , and even less have seen it first hand, the reader must be fully aware of the pains I undertook to secure this diary and these Vox comunicae in secrecy.
This account is taken form a transcript between Inquistor Lord Nocturbolous and an unknown Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus Its is possible the Unknown Inquisitor is Theodore Helsmarck
but we cant be sure.
Inquisitor Nocturbolous :
It appears our primary investigations into the Arkke Walde are successful. We have conclusively shown that another stable warp branch has emerged. Our sensors show that the new aether branch leads to a semi-stable warp ship of enormous size. Astrotelepathy has recorded at least four thousand imperial ships connected to the hulk we have tentatively named the Arkke. Innumerable life forms have been recorded aboard this new vessel, as well as many things we cant yet categorise. A very high percentage of these life forms seem to display high levels of latent Psychic abilities. As a Polypsykana we understand you have a keen interest in such individuals. It is our wish to study this new X branch at an intimate level. If you accept our proposal you would be leading an exploratory expedition into the Walde area of X . The heavily forested northern hemisphere.
Unknown Inquisitor :
Thank you for your consideration Lord Nocturbulous , I would be honoured to evaluate the situation upon X . What resistance am I likely to find planet side
Inquisitor Nocturbolous :
Then make your arrangements whilst I see to things here. The indigenous population consist of barbaric feral hunting parties, Various troglodyte creatures have been recorded. we have no reason to think they could jeopardise a well equipped landing party.
Just one thing, The ecclissiarchy are insisting we let a missionary join any landing party to sroead the imperial truth.
Unknown Inquisitor :
=][=END TRANSMISSION .
Diary Of Olmedo The blessed
Finally we have set off.. the cramped quarters aboard +REDACTED+ have inflamed my back .
Helsmarck insists we carry our own baggage , if I had known I wouldn’t have packed this tome.
We have been planet side for days , this cursed petrified forest is tormenting my faith , I see winged harpies in the dead of night fluttering overhead, attracted by our camp-fires no doubt, although the scare away easily enough with a lasbolt.
We have stumbled upon some sort of heretical stone shrine , its symbols are foreign to me unlike the sacrificial bones upon the alter. I took out my quill to sketch it for posterity.
Helsmarck is growing impatient to reach our destination , I just wish I could find some non flying natives to convert!
The rest of the camp has left me behind today, they told me to wait here until they come back , suits me I am tired of the hiking anyway.
I grew weary of waiting for my fellow explorers to return and went in search of natives..
Nothing but this damnable forest.
At last we are at our destination , the forest has made way to an open plain.. a large monolith stands in the centre..surrounded by eight fingers of rock. Ruined temples lay all around .. this is obviously a place of worship for the planets heathen population. What better place to begin the Emperors work
It occurs to me that The Inquisitor is not a man of much faith when he refuses my permission to investigate the temples.
Now I see , Helsmarck was not being contrite at all just cautious. It seems we have been tracking another party of sorts , well that's what his men say.
What foul abomination is this place , the party we have been tracking is now in on plain for all to see .. They crept through the ruined temples in the early light and began some sort of obscene ritual around the monolyth. They where strange armour of the like I have never seen , and one wears a bovine helmet !
I must write quickly .. Helsmarck has left with his men, It seems that they intend to put a stop that vile ritual.
I am to hide in the forests edge until the battle is over , I can hear the shrill squawks of those vile birdlike things.. near the edge so I will go a little deeper..
I can hear gunshots from the plain , I hope Helsmarck is okay..
What is this …? I have found them at last .. the planets natives . They are old , and look much like ourselves , they seem to be quite defenceless , and are pockmarcked with strange pustules .. I must remember to keep my distance as I teach them the error of there heathen ways..
They speak a strange dialect and hobble back and forth on stumpy legs .. I think they intend me stay and join them in there supper...... here they come now.
Missionary Olmedo's remains were found along with this sketch
PDH deployed his Slaanesh war band around the Monolith , if he could withstand Helsmarck for six turns his Loyal disciples would transformed into screeching seductress banshees of whirring death.
The nest of Harpies, a constant harassment to the shuffledodders live amongst the ruined temples
Of Arkke walde fighting for scraps left by Phineas
The Shuffledodders waddle from the walde onto the plains. A lack of viable Khornish pasty trees
Caused by Inquistorial deforestation force the itinerant to search for food elsewhere.
Their pot bellies hungry for meat.
The opening moves of the game see Helsmarck and retinue enter the plains hot on the heels of the Slaanesh Cult. The harpies split into two groups one led by the Patriarch heads toward the walde and the incoming doddermen whilst a fearful and skittish group swoop and shriek in an attempt to scare away the threat to their temple homes. The Matriarch even goes so far as to poop caustic dropping upon an unlucky Inquisitorial thrall.
Alas the Retinue are not phased and easily scare away the cowardly crones with a few loud shots.
The First kill goes to PDH ! A lone elder sister harpies curiosity became to much for it and attempted to land upon one of the circle standing stones that surrounds the monolith.
A bullheaded Cultist leaps into the air and swiftly despatches the elderly harpy for threatening the sacred ritual.
Unfortunately for him, the Patriarch witnesses his daughters demise and swoops down and grabs the
Bovine monstrosity with its taloned feet, soaring high into the air .
By now the Shuffledodders have spied lunch. Eyes affixed upon a tasty looking blue bird
just out of their reach. As the second elder sister flies down to ward off the doddermen by herself.
The feisty old men club her to death and precede to eat her entrails.
Kill number two to John.
Meanwhile an unfettered Helsmarck and retinue has quickly covered the distance to the outer standing stones .
Seeing yet another of his daughters Slain the huge harpy king drops the oxen headed heifer upon their masticating decrepit backs, knocking one over but failing to burst or end either.
Wladimir Stratos prepares to throw a huge fireball into a charging Man-Bull
Helsmarck Despatches the wytch temporarily interrupting the summoning ritual as Khalid tussles toe to toe with the Man-Bull
Finally recovering composure, the remaining Harpies led by the Matriarch avoid the monolthic battle and noisy gun shots. Instead flying over the nesting ground and to the support of their father.
The shufflyngge Doddermen make light work of the Beef Burger , their bellies beginning to distend as they warble forward with yet more greedy meat on their mind.
Helsmark must have thought his job done when the remaining cultist fell to the ground writhing in a pleasurable agony.
Until their skin split from its bones, their old selves shed in favour of ghostly daemonic apparitions.
The Rite was completed, the pastel deamonettes stood quite still but still managed to look as if they were writhing in pleasure,their hair flowed like water around their angelic faces as aethoric vapour wistfully cooled upon their pallid incorporeal skin. As it did smooth smiling faces twisted into a mocking laugh... " And now you die "
No sooner had Helsmarck readied his weapon than it was upon him, speed like nothing he had seen before,legs wrapped his waist in a lovers embrace as the forked tongue darted into his mouth .
a bliss fell upon him and he was spent.
Had he remiang awake a second more he would have heard the unmistakable hum of a deep strike teleportation device, followed by the lighting crack of searing plasma rounds .
Nocturbulous had arrived !
The Air around the monolith was charged with excited energy , the fleeting demaonettes danced forward in a frenzy of claws and death , The remaining retinue members fell like rag dolls, the sweet kiss of death upon their lips.
At forest edge the ambling bellykose had another of the daughters, a young one rash and fearless, who had flown down to avenge her sisters death
A second thrumming and two more grizzled agents were at the Inquisitor Lords side ,
autopistolwip and shotgunpumping violence was spat out of their barely controlled rage.
" For the Empraarghh,,, "
The harpies were now fighting for survival not for territory , if they had the notion to think they would realise how badly they under appreciate their enemies motivation... hunger.
But these harpies didn't think they were animals of pure instinct and their instinct said attack, and so they did.
The doddermen were out flanked , the two remaining cult leaders had noticed the natives battle and thought it best to join in the bloodlust.
Another prize for the patriarch. His family dead the winged beast has one last ditch attempt to rid his home of the invaders, The harpy king picks up a fully ripe dodderman and drops him amongst his kin
The resulting explosion sends the remainder of the doddermen back into safety of the Arkke Walde
Nocturbulous astounds his retainers by single handedly banishing the remaining demonettes
with prescription plasma shots
The last two cultists skulk off into hiding amongst the glowing runic rocks, whilst those that looked up would notice a lamenting lone father mournfully takes to the sky.