Sunday, 9 April 2017

In the grim darkness of the far game table there is only heresy

I have started GMing again, and once again it is in the Grim Darkness of the 41st millennium. This time we will be playing Dark Hersey instead of Rogue Trader. One of my players had a little back story for his demon world background.  I thought it was neat and it got me thinking as it had a few hooks I could explore. Like why would an Inquisitor remove anyone from a demon world, and what would there life be like afterwards. I would assume the person would undergo memory blocks or manipulation to better protect the mind.  So I wrote a small introductory tale to introduce the character to the other players. I liked reading the  stories immensely and have decided, I will compile and chronicle the stories of this Dark Hersey game on this blog. Below is the characters background and then the introductory story I wrote for the same. I love it when characters in the game are interesting enough to inspire me to spontaneously write up some simple fiction. 

Zarkov has no memories before the age of 8, when he awoke on a Black Ship headed to Holy Terra where he and many other psykers would be tested. Surviving the arduous testing and training process, he graduated from the Scholastia Psykana and was deemed fit to serve the Adeptus Astra Telepathica as a sanctioned psyker. Instead of being sent to some far away planet to serve as an astropath or serve aboard a ship as its navigator however, Zarkov was transferred to the personal retinue of a mid-ranking noble on the hive world of Scintilla. Kept more as a status symbol than for his astropathic abilities, Zarkov is more or less free to come and go as he pleases due to most people wanting nothing to do with him. This was not the first time an unusual arrangement had been organized behind the scenes in his favour, and Zarkov wonders who or what has been looking out for him. (sic)


Kozel Zarkov was having the dream again. A city burned and people screamed, the lights in the sky had gotten closer. So close they had begun to kiss the buildings of the city, and sometimes the ribbons of light even wafted down to the streets. The shadows were there stalking the fleeing citizens. Kozel Zarkov was there too but his name wasn't Kozel Zarkov. His name was... My Love. He tripped and grazed his knee his young legs unable to keep up as his tiny hand slipped from the woman's grasp. The man picked him up slinging him against his chest with one arm as the other grabbed the woman by the wrist. They ran again. Hot tears streamed down My Love's face. The woman wiped them with the sleeve of her dress as they ran.

 ‘Don't cry My Love.’

Suddenly they stopped. They were at the house where everyone came together and sang. Many people were there the tall doors were closed and the people couldn't get in. They were hammering their fists against the doors and shouting. The woman held him now. Her warm embrace comforted him despite the hammering and the shouting.  

‘It's ok My Love. It's ok.’

The shadows were close again they sulked along the edge of My Love's vision he could hear sick laughter and hungry growls. Their shapes blurry and streaked like a pict that has had recaf spilled on it and wiped off. The forms smudged and the colours washed out. The shadows hungered for the crowd of people but were unable to approach. Fear washed over the crowd and the hammering intensified fists pounded the doors hard enough to crack skin, fingernails split as people tried to claw their way through. The woman held My Love tight and turned so he face away from the shadow things to the front of the song building. Above its door was the eagle shining bright, he never noticed it shining like that before despite all the times he had stared at it wondering about the heads. Why two, and why was one blind? The light intensified and he realized that the eagle was what was holding back the shadows. As the blurry shadows crept closer the brass eagle's light was incandescent like the filament of a glow globe. Until the brass was smouldering and the heat washed over the crowd. Suddenly it began to melt. Liquid fire began to drip and then run freely in streams off the surface of the sculpture. Where the molten brass touched the crowd clothing combusted and flesh evaporated into steam and smoke a crescendo of screaming ended the drumming of panicked fists against the doors.
The woman removed a wooden pendant from around her neck pressing into his tiny hands.

‘Run my love. Run!’

Kozel Zarkov awoke in his champers someone was outside his door about to knock. A member of the household staff. And... An Arbitrator Enforcer. The servant was nervous she didn't want to disturb Kozel and she had never seen the grim face of an Arbitrator mirrored helmet before. The door opened without her knuckles making contact with the door. 

‘You can go Sarifinia.’

As the relieved girl turned and quickly retreated down the hallway Kozel Zarkov addressed the Arbitrator 

‘Officer. How may I serve?’

He wore the standard uniform of all Arbitrators but had the precinct medallion of the Bastion Porphyr. He unrolled a scroll as he handed it over.

‘Your services are required elsewhere Senior Astropath Xiao has reassigned you’

Kozel Zarkov was a little intrigued. He normally wasn't required to perform any taxing labour. He infrequently sent messages his employer deemed urgent or sensitive enough to be sent directly to the astropathic choir at the Bastion Porphyr instead of using a courier. He knew that sending directly to the bastion was unpleasant for the choir as they strained their senses listening for whisperers that the bastion astropathic relays amplified and enhanced. His messages sent from within the same hive and not across the gulf of the universe were like a man shouting in a library. Reassigned? Xiao had the authority as the representative of the Adeptus Telepathica on Scintilla to direct Kozel's actions as he sought fit. Perhaps this was Xiao's way of punishing him. Kozel sighed. 

'One moment let me get my things.’

Outside the Arbitrator led him to a Repressor. Its armored side's reflecting the morning light.

After I emailed this around another player who is playing in the grim darkness of Games workshops far future universe for the first time also supplied his own starting fiction for his tech-priest character. I this its excellent and really captured the themes of Dark Hersey and 40k. I love the fact he researched some wikis so his story sounds authentic. 

Iacomus fidgeted.  Unconsciously.  His broad hands rubbed against each other, knuckles were flexed and cracked, his head nodded, his short, sturdy body rocked back and forth.  His mechadendrite limbs whirred and clicked in almost perpetual motion - straightening folds in his robes, twisting to view the oddities of Hive Sibellus through the tube-train windows, scratching at phantom itches in his flesh.  Wretched, pitiful flesh he corrected.  He breathed deeply and started reciting a litany to the Omnissiah to calm himself and caught himself enjoying the relative freshness of the air.  As a native of Lathe-Hesh, he had been fitted with respirator filter implants from the moment he had left the cradle-hab, implants that were necessary to filter the miasma of toxic chemicals that permeated the atmosphere on Hesh.  Of course, they could not remove the scent.  Newly arrived on Scintilla, stepping from the Arvus Lighter shuttle into the passenger terminal, it was the very first thing he noticed.  And so far, it was his favourite thing about the bustling hive.

His duties on Hesh had been very different from those assigned to him more recently.  He had been a simple rune priest and his days were mostly spent in huge marshalling yards - operating and communing with the Chimera transports and Leman Russ Battle Tanks newly constructed and ready for deployment with Imperial Guard regiments, or sometimes performing rites of repair on damaged weaponry and armour.  That changed once he met Brother Zebediah, a fellow adept who had befriended him during their acquaintance at work.  Most of his colleagues left him well alone, which suited Iacomus fine since he enjoyed the solitude, but Zebediah engaged with him about his affinity for the great warmachines, his interest in obscure technologies and he seemed attentive and smiled at those moments that Iacomus let slip his excitement.  Soon Iacomus learned that Zebediah was a member of an exclusive and very devout sect, The Scions of the Iron Sphere, and was invited to join them at their meetings.  He had felt welcome there among his brothers.  Although he had not been among them long, he came to know some of what believed.  His brothers had engaged him in long and fervent discussions on the limitations of the body and the path of devotion to the Omnissiah, a gradual replacement of flesh with sacred cybernetics. He recalled the impassioned sermons, the devotion on the faces in attendance... although when tried to recall the words that had been spoken his mind was strangely blank.  Peculiar.  Nevertheless, he was here because the Elder Scion had given to him a great honour.  He was going to be summoned to Scintilla, to the sector capital, to assist the Imperium and bring honour to the Mechanicum.  It had sounded strange at the time but the next day his supervisor delivered the same news.  The Mechanicus were sending a contingent of emissaries to Scintilla, to be assigned within the Adeptus Terra as required.  The Lexmechanic seemed as shocked as Iacomus.  "Explorator Makhana, do you know your task?"  "Yes," was all he could mumble.

Before his departure there had been a great ceremony, a 'Rite of Pure Thought' the Elder Scion had called it.  They had arranged for him to be fitted with wondrous and sacred technology, "to assist with the task ahead" it was explained to him.  The snakelike mechadendrite limbs protruding from his spine were part of that gift.  The other part ... Iacomus absently rubbed the scars on his temples as he thought of the memorance implant.  He thought of the ceremony, the darkened room, the hooded faces.  Strangely, his mind blanked again when he tried to recall the particulars of that night.  Maybe an aftereffect of his recent surgery.  "Please do keep in touch, Iacomus!  We should all love to hear of your exploits." insisted the Elder Scion with a knowing smile.  The gathering crowd of acolytes were all smiling too, offering their own well-wishes and prayers.  He had left Hesh then, first aboard the Maccabeus Quintus, a Tarask class Merchantman carrying chemical goods from Landunder between The Lathe-Worlds and the Malfi system.  Then he was transported to a Vagabond class mercantile voidship, Expedior, for the final part of a 6 month long journey to Scintilla.

The last missive received from the Mechanicum was a directive to attend at the Magistratum Precinct Fortress, Licinanus Inferior, CCLXVII by request of the Administratum of Scintilla.  Spotting the chrono display above the doors of the tube-train, Iacomus realised he would have time to review the information he had compiled on his new home.  And so he did, barking soft recitations of Techna Lingua from the databanks of his memorance implant and avoiding the quizzical looks of his fellow passengers as the train brought him closer to his destination.

My mind lets go a thousand things

like the dates of wars and the death of kings,

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Savours of Damarus

Regimental Sergeant Major Wulf Heironymous stood behind the firing line of the makeshift firing range that had been erected in the cargo hold. He recited the right of accuracy to the troops that had been assigned to weapons drill. They all knew it but he recited is anyway. 
'Remember these words they are now your mantra! On this range you will come to understand the importance of accurate coordinated fire, or I will personally eject you from the nearest voidlock' 

He turned to the corporals, and barked 'Ascending small arms volleys. Begin at 50 meters.' 

He turned as the NCOs began bullying the green troops into firing ranks and remembered back when he first began to understand the words of the right.

Recruit Wulf Heironymous felt pressure on his left shoulder as Reinald squeezed it 
'Repeat the right of accuracy this time.' 

he spoke softly. Wulf wasn't sure if he was worried that an officer would hear. Or if Reinald was just trying to calm his nerves. Wulf adjusted his grip on the wooden handles and shifted one hand to loosen the clutch of the tripod. As he did he sighted along the receiver and down the long barrel of the Autocannon. He moved the range notch up a 20 meter increment, aligned the front post with the rear sight and laid them over his target. A stack of grain bales with a crude circular splash of red paint approximately 400 meters distant. 
'No 420 meters distant.' 

Wulf thought correcting himself. The receiver radiated heat and the air crossing across his sight picture twisted and turned as the much hotter barrel produced a heat haze. Wulf though back to his militia training and began to softly speak the right he had learned by rote even before he had held his first lasrifle.

'Haste is the enemy of accuracy.
Enemies targeted in haste are not speedily terminated.
Accuracy is methodical, ordered, and precise.
Methodical is ordered.
Ordered is precision.
Precision is accuracy.
Without accuracy even heavy fire will fail to find its mark.
Without accuracy the Xeno advances.
Without accuracy the heretic continues to draw breath.
Accuracy is the bane of the enemy.'

Wulf finished muttering the right, as he completed realigning the Autocannon. A lieutenant barked through a loudhailer from down along battlements. 
'Box 75 do insure your performance improves!'

Apparently the officer had noticed Wulf's abysmal shooting. He wasn't surprised every cluster of bales besides his bore huge holes punched from the heavy caliber rounds of the Autocannons. Aldheim snidely remarked that a recruit shouldn't be shooting the heavy weapons and they would all be disciplined if the officer sent a corporal over for couragement. Reinald Interrupted 
'This will likely be the only chance the kid will have to learn how to use a heavy weapon before the fighting starts.' 

The lieutenant held his loud speaker to his mouth and bellowed. 
'All sections. Short bursts. Two cycles... FIRE!' 

Thunder erupted along the wall as over two hundred heavy weapons simultaneously opened fire. Wulf depressed the tab between the Autocannons's handles with his thumbs. This time he kept his head low and eyes aligned with the sights. He released the firing tab after a count of two, let the weapon settle on the target again and depressed the tab a second time. He continued, methodical in his actions. Aim, fire, reset, after 50 smoking shells had tumbled to floor of the parapet the receiver locked back with a satisfactory metallic clunk. Aldheim seamlessly reached across and released the exhausted ammunition drum from the Autocannon's feed. He then slid a fresh one in place and raped the side of the drum with the flat of his hand to free any stuck shells. Wulf grabbed the cocking handle with both hands sliding it back towards himself and then forward again. His whole body rocked with the effort of charging the spring, striping a shell from the ammunition drum and chambering the explosive tipped projectile. Realigning the sights with the target he continued depressing the firing tab. Again the Autocannon barked and vibrated violently as the receiver rapidly reciprocated. Each time he fired he was sure to lose only a few rounds that way he was able to correct his aim. The previous attempt he had held the firing tab firmly down. the entire autocannon had bucked so much his hands and teeth had hurt from the vibrations despite the sandbags pinning the legs of heavy weapons tripod down. Even if his initial aim may have been true but by the time the Autocannon had expended all the ammunition it had carved small river of muddy craters away from the initial impact point.
'That's a bit bloody better. Why didn't you do that the first time Mus?' 

Aldheim slapped him on the back as he congratulated him 
'Perhaps we will avoid having to stand post all tonight after all.' 

The bales of hay had been smashed apart by the concentrated fire, the small remaining clumps were smoking from the heat of the explosive rounds. The air was thick with the acrid tang of cordite. 

Reinald nodded towards the barrel of the autocannon. It was smoking along its length. Aldheim swiftly pulled on a pair of thick gloves, depressed the barrel locking lever as he griped and rotated it a half turn. The barrel sprung free and he laid it upon the open asbestos lined bag put aside just for this purpose. He grabbed the unused spare barrel and reversed his actions to lock in place. All three occupants of box 76 scrambled to attention and saluted as they noticed the lieutenant marching along the wall towards them.

The lieutenant spoke with the smooth accent of high born plutocracy. 

The lieutenant addressed Reinald but he looked straight at Wulf. Reinald snapped his response 'Sir!

The lieutenant eyes dressed Wulf up an down as he continued.
'Your performance in the first drill was typical of a recruit not inducted in the use of a heavy weapon.'

Reinald looked straight ahead and remained at attention 
'Sir. Yes Sir.'

'But your performance improved remarkably in the second dril.'

'Thank you Sir '

The lieutenant returned the three's salute 
'You have my congratulations. Your target is the most thoroughly destroyed'

The lieutenant turned his head to the left addressed the sergeant standing behind him. 'Sergeant. Please see to it that the recruit maintains the grooming standard. '

As the lieutenant walked away the sergeant began berating Wulf. A tirade of abuse flowed form the stern sergeant who was concerned with the moral ramifications of how Wulf's hands and sleeves ended up coated in soot. After some more disparaging remarks about Reinald's, Aldheim's, and Wulf's parentage. The sergeant gave the members of box 76 double watch duty that night and stalked down the row of pill boxes on top of the wall looking for more victims. 

Wulf sighed with relief as the Sergeant beratement seised. 
'The lieutenant knew that I was the one who used the Autocannon. He could see the powder no my hands. Why didn't he say anything?' 

'I am guessing he was happy with your performance... He may also realise that having the recruits actually learn how to shoot might be useful.'

Aldheim scoffed.
'Thoes big green brutes won't know what hit em if they come near the walls. The whole bloody leavy is mobilised. Besides did you see the Sphinx Heavy Guard, and Highlands Wardens mustered on the southern planes? Tanks! Undereds of em... No Ork is even gona get close to these walls. It's a pity too. They say kill'n Xeno is the Emperor’s work.'

'I'm not too sure Aldheim. They wouldn't have mobilised the leavy and conscripted the recruits if there wasn't a real threat. Not to mention all the off world reinforcements that have arrived.'

'Pffh you melancholy bastard. It's always doom and gloom with you. Mark my words the Wardens will chase the Orks into the hills the moment they make planetfall. If they make planet fall! Did you hear we've got a Navy cruiser, and one of the Rogue Traders have a fracking battle cruiser! Training that recute is a waste of time. We're not even gona get to fire a shot.'

The coordinated crack of a lasgun volley impacting the metallic silhouette targets brought the Sergeant Major out of his daydream. The green troops had found their groove. The veteran NCOs had bullied, coaxed, threatened, and tutored the green troops into a disciplined firing line. The rhythmic firing of the troops was an impressive sight and he knew the officers would be impressed with straight backs, synchronised movements and clean starchy uniforms. Now that the new men understood how to volley fire they would practice and drill twice each day at the opening and closing of each day training. As Regimental Sergeant Major, it was one of Wulf's duties to ensure that the troops looked proper. But he knew that wars weren’t won with formation marching and neatly arranged lasgun volleys. 

He gestured to the sergeant leading the other NCOs training the troops.


'Don't sir me Sergeant Decius. You've done good dressing those kids up, the officers will be most pleased. Now it's time to show them how to properly use those lasguns.'

'Kids eh... No problem Sergeant Major.'

The elderly sergeant turned and almost immediately began bellowing at the youths. Suddenly their neatly arranged ranks and straight backs were imbecilic. The other NCOs also berated the unseasoned troops. As they almost fell over each other and scrambled into firing positions behind cover. Worn-out cargo crates scattered along the length of the firing range just for that purpose. 

The NCOs broke the men into two groups and begun instructing the first to suppress the targets with aimed fire from behind cover, while the second advanced. After a short distance, the advancing group was halted behind cover and extolled to open fire, allowing the first group to advance. The two groups of troops repeated the cycle until the end of the range was reached. 

Wulf thought about the elder sergeant's remark. At Nineteen he was one of the younger NCOs in the regiment. He was definitely the youngest Regimental Sergeant Major the regiment has ever had in its history. Traditionally it was battle honours that won a veteran the title of RSM. As the levy hadn't seen any major conflicts in sixty years, hard work and an affinity for pleasing the officers had been the deciding factors for the appointments in recent memory. A few of the oldest soldiers in the regiment were NCOs that had spent a decade or more lobbying for the title of RSM. There was some discontent about Wulf's appointment, but while he continued to act competently the worst he would have to contend with would be a raised eyebrow or a laconic response. 

After the troops had navigated the length of the firing range three times The NCOs broke the groups up further down into squads of four. And then began to run the drill again half of the troops would fire other half would advance. The roles would switch and the first group would leapfrog the second. The fresh troops were learning fast but their actions were still less coordinated and their movements slower than Wulf would have liked. They would get there he was sure of it. He knew the next step of their training would be the hardest yet. They were going to have to learn what to do once they had closed with the enemy. Neet volleys and fire and manoeuvre drilling were only half the battle. They were going to have to learn the brutal reality that despite rapid fire Autocannons, tanks and mass lasrifle fire a lot of the killing in war was done art arms length. 

After mess he retired to his bunk. They had been voidbore for sixty days and the ship sleep cycle was second nature now.  He had become accustomed to the shifts in gravity, the sense of continuous movement, the sounds and smells of ship life. Bitter Oil, grease, and body odour. Sporadic crinkling of electrical arc welders, and the hammering of tools, the thrum of the atmospheric scrubbers, and the knocking of water pipes. The boastful laughing of young men, the hushed whispers of attempts to maintain private conversations, the mournful screaming of someone awakened by a dreamborn terror. The task before him was to transform the assortment of weathered veterans, and green recruits into a functional fighting force. General Dantie had honoured his treaty with Lord Havelock after the invasion of Damarus was repelled, troops, tanks, armaments, and equipment were all made available. The tanks like the armaments and equipment were less than optimal. Either well past their service life or damaged from battles with the Orks on Damarus. The troops likewise were the minimum the general could supply and still adhere to the agreements he had signed with the rogue trader dynasty. Freshly conscripted juveniles untested in battle and elderly men well past their prime. The officer corps were quite component, battle tested, and loyal... To Lord Havelockat least, but politically opposed to Dantie's goals so the general was happy to send them off world. 

As Wulf drifted off to sleep he thought about what lay ahead of the troops. He had advised that most veteran troops be promoted into NCOs and laid out a program of intense physical training to mould the youths into real soldiers. For the most part the officers had delegated the reformation of the newly formed First Damarus Leavy Expeditionary Regiment to him. The task before him was daunting but he would not srink before it. He understood the consequences of should he fail to prepare the troops to meet the challenges that they would be expected to face. 

The cool wind blew over the edge of the battlements its temperature lowered by the flurries of snow that had begun to fall as Autumn deepened. The chill in the air cut Recruit Wulf Heironymous to the bone his fatigues and coat wet with sweat but the cold did nothing to dampen the flames of the burning buildings behind him. Aldheim maned the Autocannon swivelling it on the tripod across his field of view searching for more targets.
The quietly spoken gunner Reinald had died a week ago his blood still stained Wulf's clothing.
'Mus get another drum ready, you dolt?

'Why don't you just call me Wulf?'

Wulf open the crate that held the ammunition drums. Empty shells rolled off and clattered to the rockcrete floor as he flipped the lid. 
'Only one left'

'Then stop daydreaming you're a Wolf; and find more. NOW!'

Wulf jogged along the parapet avoiding sandbags of collapsed pillboxes, and piles of spend shell casings. He didn’t want to slip and fall to the street below. One of the other recruits had fallen two days ago. Back broken but still alive... he had screamed for his mother as the medicals had carried his stretcher into a waiting cargo van that now served as an ambulance. His movements were hampered by the fading light of dusk, and the bodies. He hated looking at them; faces frozen in rage, pain, or fear. Worst of all were the bloody lumps of shredded flesh or blackened smoking remains unrecognisable as human besides the tattered remnants of green and blue Levy uniforms. The medicals would remove them eventually but they gave priority to the wounded. 

He reached the stairs and swiftly descended joining other troops doing the same. He approached one of the ammunition dumps. All he found was empty crates and scattered packing material. Other troops crawled through the mess flipping empty crates over looking for one that remained unopened under the detritus. He abandoned his search and returned up the stairs. He paused at each pillbox that had been struck by a shell and rummaged amongst the carnage for additional ammunition. By the time he returned to Aldheim the Autocannon was barking again. The Orks often mustered together into great green waves that surged forward and threatened to wash aside the the city's great walls. But the time between these grand assaults wasn't quiet. Smaller bands and tribes continually launched skirmishes, heavy weapons were pushed into position and begun shelling, and fast vehicles raced along the perimeter of the defences firing wildly and bellowing insults as they careened across the rough landscape. The continued pressure punctuated by the major assaults was wearing on the defences. Lack of sleep and maintenance  further degraded the collation of forces stationed on the walls. The defence council had directed all available resources to the city's defence. Platoons of Levy troops stood shoulder to shoulder with Damarus law enforces. Their numbers further bolstered by masses of armed voidmen supplied by the Rogue Traders who had come to the planet's aid. The poorly armed and unarmoured voidmen's skin was unaccustomed to natural light of the long Damarus days and clothing was unsuitable for the chill of the Damarus evenings. Their uniforms were an eclectic assortment. Bare feet, and bare chests weren't uncommon. Some possessed tricorn hats or tools for maintenance, all were armed but again there were a great assortment of weapon types. Shotguns, auto rifles, and various lasguns. What they lacked in provisions they did make up in discipline, not once did they shrink from battle. However the intense fighting and unrelenting tempo of the conflict combined with Damarus Weather resulted in very high attrition among these units. The Companies of Levy troops fared better but they too were at breaking point. Heavy weapon ammunition was nearly exhausted and casualties were mounting. Wulf slumped down beside Aldheim as he begun striping the shells from the partially expended drums and consolidating them.
'this is all I could find'

Aldheim glanced at the blood smeared ammunition drums.
'It'll have ta do. I hope this truck shows up soon or there'll be nothin left ta resupply.'

Aldheim, Wulf and several other heavy weapon squads had been redeployed from the walls overlooking the western argi plains to the wall guarding the major highway to Shard's forge. Supplies were running low and the forge had continued manufacturing from its stockpiles throughout the two weeks of the siege. However with the majority of the Sphinx Heavy Guard, and Highlands Wardens vehicles damaged or disabled and the infantry marred in the defence of Damarus prime. Safe transport of the vital ammunition shipment was impossible. The Rogue Trader; Atticus Havelock had volunteered to personally escort the multiaxial cargo haulers as they made a high speed dash along the highway leading from the forge to the city. 

'Lord Havelock will make it. He has to succeed. He just has to.'

'I don't like his chances the whole damned place is swarming with those green bastards.'

'He has done the same before. Gone beyond the walls to take the fight to the Orks. You've seen the pic-casts. He led those sorties With the Sphinx Heavy Guard, and Highlands Wardens. Sweeping the Orks from the walls. Twice now he's done it.'

'Aye but he ain't got two armoured divisions backing him up this time. Most of da Wardens and Guards are still recovering from those sorties and a lot of em didn't comback.'

'You'll see. He'll do it. They say he saved the offensive against the first rock that fell the one they surrounded and destroyed with Highlands Wardens artillery. You've seen the posters. General Dantie was pined down with the Sphinx Heavy Guard. Suddenly as if summoned the prayers of the troops he descended on wings of light and by blade and flame Lord Havelock single-handedly cleared the way.'

'Single handed eh. Then why're we up on this wall providing over watch for his approach?'

Wulf didn't answer. He just knew that this hero that had come from across the stars to save Damarus was like the heroes of old. The preacher every seventh day had told the stories of the Emperor and his warrior's who had travelled the void defeating mankind's enemies. Surely in this time of need one of those heroes had returned. The Rogue Trader's actions has surely proved it. Atticus Havelock had United the despite forces of Damarus under his command had charitably deployed thousands of Voidmen, and tonnes of materials to aid in the defence of Damarus. His advisers has redirected and repositioned elements of the defences to better Whether the attacks the the Orks had launched. His ship The Redeemer mighty enough to be seen in orbit from the surface had unleashed spears of light down onto Damarus scouring away the Orks when they had gathered in sufficient mass to detect from orbit. Now he was insuring the safe delivery of the precious ammunition that the defences needed to continue the fight. 

Composed on a phone while sitting on a commode. 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Express elevator to Hell

So last time I posted I had attempted to give my Valkyries a chipped paint look using salt although the method technically worked the results were less than satisfactory.  I failed to apply it correctly; applying too much salt and in the wrong locations. So in this post I will go over the lengthy descent into hell I experienced  attempting to repair the damage I had done; and the process of completing the painting of the models. My first step was to repaint the Valkyries and cover up all that shiny metal spray paint. I needed a couple of coats of red starting with a darker shade and I had to paint over the whole model to blend the all the colours together  My air brush was a huge help for this, laying down even smooth coats of paint quickly.

My failed attempt at salt chipping.

The Havlock crest on one of my homemade stencils. 

Once I was done I got to thinking about detail. I wanted to use the Havelock family crest as described my my players;  and figured that the wings of the Valkyries would provide perfect spaces for it. Now I just needed to figure out how to get it on there neatly I toyed with the idea of a laser cut stencil for a while several companies could provide me what I wanted easily enough but it would cost a little more than I wanted. So I decided to make my own stencils. I would print out the image onto a piece of paper cut out the area to be painted and just spay through the remaining negative. The only problem is that airbrush paint is very thin and paper doesn't like being wet and how would I prevent the paper from being dislodged by the air blasting out of the airbrush? The solution: I would print out the image onto a sticker cut out the area to be painted and just spay through the remaining negative. Boom, genius, mike drop, (oh how foolish I was). I grabbed some sticky labels of appropriate size printed out my design placed them on the wings of one of my Valkyries then I noticed that one of the labels was a little crooked.  As I removed and re-positioned the offending label the sticky surface of the label lifted the paint strait of the surface of the model but only where I had previously painted it with the horrible metallic silver paint. It appeared that the texture of the spray paint was proving difficult for the acrylic GW paint to bond to. I placed the Valkyrie with the ruined paint scheme to one side; I still had another. I figured the sticky bond of the label was too strong so I had an idea to protect the paint on this Valkyrie with talcum powder. I spread the talcum over the wings then applied the labels with the printed designs they didn't seem to sticky and were able to be re-positioned easily enough. I then lightly cut the design out with a hobby blade. Unfortunately when I removed the cut portion some of the paint again lifted from the wing revealing the silver curse of my own making.

The wings after I remover the first labels.

The wings with a protective layer of talcum powder.

The talcum powder wasn't protective enough. 

After removing the remainder of the labels and putting them away in frustration; I worked on my naval arms men/conscripts greened stuffed their hats, base coated them, and painted a batch to tabletop standard.

Greened stuffed tricorn hats. 

One batch at table top quality, one with two base colors, and one with under coat.

I after my conscript break from the Valkyries I returned. Firstly I washed the models thoroughly to get all trace of the label glue and the talcum of the wings. I once again had to repaint the Valkyries and cover up the evil shiny metal spray paint. I again started with a darker shade and I had to paint over the whole model to blend the all the colours together.  I couldn't have done this without my air brush the thin coats of paint were starting to build up. If I had painted the Valkyries with a brush they would have just been big blobs of paint with a plastic centre by now. I again turned my attention to painting Havelock family crest  on the wings of the Valkyries this time I traced the image on the wings with a pencil and used the outline as a guide to paint the eagle and fist. The result looked better than I expected.

My hand painted design. I am surprised how not crummy it looks.

I then began mucking things up giving the Valkyries a beat up look lots of paint chipping and muck. giving the dropships a really worn look I figure doping from orbit isn't the gentlest of experiencesThis time I used a piece of packing foam from a blister to sponge on the chipping. a trick I learned from a Beasts Of War backstage painting video but the excellent Duncan Rhodes has also done one. Firstly I applied a mixture of dark brown mixed with some black  then some metallic lead bleacher to give the effect of chipped paint with some bare metal showing on the most worn areas. To give the effect that the paint wear was from flight to restricted the wear to the leading edges of the model and each panel. I used some blue painters tape to protect the trailing edges of the wing and tail panels.

Painters tape to protect the trailing edges of the panels.

After I had sponged on the paint chips and metallic paint I removed the painters tape and once again it appeared that the texture of the spray paint was proving difficult for the acrylic GW paint to bond to. As I removed the tape the sticky surface of the tape lifted some of the paint off the surface of the model. This time I had to repaint over he exposed metallic spray paint but I couldn't use the airbrush unless I wanted to cover up all the chipping I had done. So I carefully brushed on some paint, layering up to match the existing red hue, Then I weathered it to look like the remainder of the Valkyrie. The end result wasn't too horrible.

The silver curse strike again.
Can't use the airbrush here.

I actually think I did a good job in the end.

My next project is paint up a Lemun Russ.

But to that second circle of sad hell,
Where ‘mid the gust, the whirlwind, and the flaw
Of rain and hail-stones, lovers need not tell
Their sorrows. Pale were the sweet lips I saw,
Pale were the lips I kiss’d, and fair the form
I floated with, about that melancholy storm.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Soaring in the heavens, or descending into Hell: A Valkyrie story.

It's be a good long time since I've posted anything I might say it's because I've been too busy with gaming and other hobby stuff. Or I may say I was occupied with university or work, but they would be poor excuses. The truth is is mainly laziness that has prevented me form posting. But I haven't be completely inactive this whole time. I have managed to work on the flyers for my Rogue Trader themed Imperial Guard force. When I got my airbrush I started looking at different ways to paint with it.  One of the coolest tricks I found was salt chipping. So I soon got an idea to have my Valkyries display a high degree of wear and tear the reasoning being a Rogue Trader on a  lengthy voyage wouldn't be stopping off for a resupply regularly. I would spray my flyers with a bright metallic base, salt that sucker up, paint over the whole lot, and then just chip the salt away to reveal the bare metal of the fuselage.  Easy right?
First I set out for some metallic paint for the airbrush. After some research I discovered that normal metallic paint isn't suitable for airbrushing. Apparently the metallic particles in the pigment tends to
gum up the airbrush. There are products that allow metallic airbrushing like the Model Air range of paints from Vallejo.

What could go wrong?
But me being my usual impatient self just decided to use whatever was available locally in this case cheep silver spay-paint.

So first up I had to assemble the pair of Valkyries I had. I avoided using the instructions for most of the construction. But I had to check them for the location of some of the smaller parts. I stuffed up one of the wing weapon hard-points when I glued it in back to front the only thing that tipped me off was that the angle seemed wrong. Another this was I did was leave the pilots torsos out of the original construction I had to trim them a little to make them fit after they were pained. During the assembly I installed a series of 3mm circular magnets. The idea being that later down the track I could swap out the weapons or even convert them them Vendettas.

Assembly complete. 
Magnets on the hard-points.

Magnets behind the multi-laser.
Top off for future painting.

Magnets for the rear door too.
Rear door magnet works good. 

Blue painters tape to protect the primer.
The internals a light grey to reflect light. 

Internals painted.
Internals painted. 

Painted flight controls #2
Painted flight controls #1

More blue painters tape.

Blue-tac to protect the cockpit.

What have I done!

Painted pilots  

Canopy fitted over cockpit.
Canopy fitted over cockpit

Now it's time to start the salt coverage. I grabbed a small bowl of water, some paper towels, a brush, and and some salt. I laid the towel down to help with the mess then used the brush to paint on some small dabs of water I tried to keep the water to the edges of the model but often the surface tension of the droplets broke it was much easier to dab the water on the flat of a panel. Next I sprinkled salt over where I had added the water when the salt  touched the water it congealed otherwise it just fell off. I repeated this process until I thought I had  covered enough of the model. Then I grabbed my airbrush and begun layering up red paint until I couldn't see the base colors anymore. When I was done and the paint had dried I begun the very messy process of brushing all the slat off I used a small house paint brush it fairly soft bristles and the salt came off easily I ended up with a large red salty mess of dried paint. The effect of the chiping actually looked good; I guess because it was actually chipped paint. But the overall look of the miniature looked off. I think I simply used too much salt and in the wrong places.

Ready for the salt

Perhaps too much 

I like the effect but not the placement. Too much in the center of the panels, and too much overall. I think less will be more. 

See! warp is stretched
Forwarriors' fall,
Lo! weft in loom
'Tis wet with blood;
Now fight foreboding,
'Neath friends' swift fingers,
Our grey woof waxeth
With war's alarms,
Our warp bloodred,
Our weft corseblue.
"This woof is y-woven
With entrails of men,
This warp is hardweighted
With heads of the slain,
Spears blood-besprinkled
For spindles we use,
Our loom ironbound,
And arrows our reels;
With swords for our shuttles
This war-woof we work;
So weave we, weird sisters,
Our warwinning woof.