Friday, 11 January 2019

CCII. Cult of the Possessed: Brethren

This week I'm continuing with my Mordheim project with addition of five Brethren. They all follow the same design, so it made sense to create all of them together in a batch. 



This is how Brethren are described in the Mordheim book:

Brethren are the crazed human followers of the cults of the dark gods, eager to descend into damnation. Their vile deeds and unspeakable acts have driven them to the brink of insanity.
 
The models' warped poses suggest erratic movement, the simple weapons unsophisticated brutality, the filth-encrusted naked bodies complete disregard for their own health and safety. Finally, crude masks hide their faces, adding another layer of sinister unpredictability. I hope this combination of choices successfully results in a 'crazed cultist' feel. Please tell me what you think in the comments.  



 
The conversions are all from 40K Poxwalkers. I picked those that were low on clothing and extreme mutations, but even then I had a lot of cleaning to do. Some of their hands are from Crypt Ghouls. Their sticks and stones will count as spears and short bows in the game.



Those who have played the survival horror game Darkwood may notice a resemblance to Savages, an enemy type from the game. Because of that headdress they also remind me of the Beast from Over the Garden Wall (2014), though there was no intention of referencing that. However, now that I'm mentioning it: the animated mini-series is brilliant, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. It takes under two hours to see the entire series.



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In the end, just a little shoutout: my Polish friend Witold started a miniatures blog. He's currently working on a converted Kill Team, so go check it out if you're interested: Backwater Deathworld

Friday, 4 January 2019

CCI. Cult of the Possessed: A Darksoul


New Year - new group project. I've been summoned once more by Alexander of Echoes of Imperium to contribute to an event he's organizing. This time it's Mordheim MMXIX, a celebration of the 20 year anniversary of the game's release. The list of people involved is impressive, and I can't wait to see all they produce in one place. If you want to follow along, check this post on Echoes of Imperium, as well as #mordheim2019 on Instagram.


For my warband, I opted for Cult of the Possessed. It'll be a band of crazed cultists following a dangerous madman. My first model is one of the two planned Darksouls:







Darksouls in Mordheim lore are described as follows:

Darksouls are men who have been driven insane by the daemonic possession which became all too common after the destruction of Mordheim. The Daemons have left the bodies of these men, but their minds have been scarred by the horror of the experience.Their insane strength makes Darksouls dangerous fighters. The Cultists regard them as holy men, and let them work out their unreasoning rage in battle. In their tortured minds the Darksouls believe themselves to be Daemons. They wear leering daemonic masks and garb themselves in armour and clothing resembling the scaled skin of Daemons.

I liked the idea of such costumed cultists. This one is based on carnival bell ringer costumes from Grobnik in Croatia:

Photo by Charles Fréger. From the Wilder Mann project.

The conversion is based on a Nurgle Rotter from Bloodbowl. The club is from a Chainrasp. The ox skull is from the 'Animal Skulls & Bones' pack from Kromlech, but its horns were tiny so I made my own. And I drilled some eye holes for the chap to see through.




Friday, 28 December 2018

200. Gelida: the Frozen Expanse


 
 

Gelida: the Frozen Expanse is a 40K/Inq28 group project started by Cody Taylor aka Magos Buer. Gelida is a frozen planet, inhabitable only around its equator. Humans have resorted to utilizing mechs and exosuits to traverse the world for resources. I'm contributing with this mech and pilot:



The mech is an old metal Killa Kan with some changes to tone down the 'orkyness' and make him suitable to represent an Imperial walker. The pilot is slightly converted Steel Legion guardsman. The snow was done using DAS, PVA, plaster and paint.




Inspiration for my models comes mostly from Jakub Rozalski's artwork - most known for illustrating the popular board game Scythe. I don't normally dig the feel of digital art, but this is an exception. The atmosphere the artist creates is highly immersive.

Artwork by Jakub Rozalski.

And this was the last blog post of 2018. It was another fantastic hobby year in the Gardens; thank you all for reading and commenting. See you next year. I'll leave you with some more snowy scenic shots:




Tuesday, 18 December 2018

CXCIX. Knights of the Firmament: Sol and Luna

When The Dolorous Stroke was released back in August, I immediately picked up the rulebook. It's a narrative tabletop skirmish wargame written by Emmy Allen, with a dark fairy tale/Arthurian theme. It has its own setting, but it can easily be used for a bunch of fantasy settings. Now, months later, I'm finally going to give the rules a try with a little adventure set in my AoS28 Isles of Brume. Of course, I'm making some new minis specially for this occasion.

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Sol and Luna are members of a mystical knightly order named Knights of the Firmament. The order is dedicated to a demon named Giger, who allegedly dwells in a subterranean palace beneath their keep on Erebos. The knights travel around the Isles, spreading Giger's cult by doing great deeds, including interfering with schemes of other demons (using their followers for such tasks is is nothing out of the ordinary for demonkind). Knights of the Firmament have been known for abducting musicians, singers and songbirds, for the demon Giger is incredibly fond of music - and likes to collect performers to entertain him.  


I recently invested in a few boxes of 28mm Perry 15th century plastics (as well as some 1/72 Zvezda medieval knights) primarily for a diorama project I want to do next year. Great bunch of minis. Sadly, not compatible with Citadel due to scale, so none of these will be seen on the tabletop with any of my previous human models. But they can play with monsters, and I have plenty of those. These two knights were built using Mounted Men at Arms, Foot Knights, and European Infantry kits.

Each has a mounted an dismounted version, as well as swappable lance and sword options for the former. The Dolorous Stroke is played with a very low model count, so it's cool to dedicate even more effort to each character.


The Perry models were moderately converted. I fully sculpted the helmets, and the shields are metal thumbtacks. I made the suns on Sol's horse's rear barding, and thr crescents on Luna's horse came from old Citadel High Elves. 



The designs were inspired by a piece of alchemical artwork (below). For the entire faction's look I think I'll also be channeling the art of Viktor Safonkin, an amazing surrealist painter (look him up, you won't be disappointed). 


Tuesday, 11 December 2018

CXCVIII. An Unplanned Aelf Warband

I was at a gaming show a few weeks back, doing all-day painting demos again. There were sprues of sea elves, and I decided to see what can be done with minimal converting and an unconventional (for high elves) paintjob. When my test model turned out surprisingly cool, I wanted to make some more. I allowed myself greater freedom with the others, though - they were converted using putty.

An elven mage, Venthadror the Sage, with his guards. The mage is also a converted Seaguard. Trimmed off a lot, and just sculpted some more robe on top. And fully closed the helmet.

Venthadror's guards, including their captain. Lothern Seaguard with some minor changes. The one on the right was the test model.

The mage's pet salamander, Vurlien. The model is RAFM Miniatures giant newt. I love the sculpt. It's meant to have a reptilian rider, which I didn't use.

 
All the elves. The ranger is an experiment from a few months ago. He fits nicely with those guys.
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I also had a bunch of these Space Marines. Since the first two days at the show were slow (weekdays), I asked my followers on Instagram to give me ideas for what to do with Space Marines. I got a lot of suggestions, and picked a few from those. Some turned out better than others, but it was definitely a fun exercise. I think the leopard is my favourite.

  1. Photonegative (normal photo)
  2. Photonegative (the same photo inverted)
  3.  Terracotta
  4. Pointillism
  5. Ghostly
  6. Leopard

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

CXCVII. The Third Witch

Last week I hosted the second game in the AoS28 campaign I'm playing with Vladimir. This time we used my adaptation of the Malifaux rules system, and I think we'll stick to that one from now on. You can find my report on the first game, Hag's Hovel Carnage, here: LINK. But for your convenience here's a brief recap of the events that lead to the encounter you're about to witness in this report:

Several moons ago a group of mercenaries trespassed within Folda's borders to seek out an old woman's cottage hidden in a dark wood. The crone's name was Vanga, and she was a witch. The mercenaries were under a horrific curse cast by her estranged younger sister, Tashta, and were hoping Baba Vanga could cure them. Unfortunately for the whole lot of them, Janos the Cannibal, a knight of Folda and witch hunter, was on the Cursed Company's trail. A skirmish ensued in the witch's own front yard, leaving everybody dead but Janos and a single ghoul soldier of his. Janos severed the hag's head and presented it to the Queen. He was granted the authority to form, and take command of, a small force dedicated solely to the task of combating witches and their ilk.  


I. DRAMATIS PERSONAE


Vladimir's warband.
The witches Vanga and Tashta had another sister: Gianna, the youngest. She got on with Vanga well, and when she learnt of her death she was furious. She immediately sent her familiar to retrieve the body, but all he found were gnawed bones. There was no head. Qrth brought home what he found of Vanga, as well as one of the strange fallen warriors whose rotting bodies littered the cottage's yard. The deceased mercenary was then forced back from death to tell Gianna what had occurred and who had killed Vanga. Later, rumours got to Gianna that her sister's head was being paraded around Folda as a trophy... 

  • The Witch Gianna - she is trying hard to keep her appearance youthful, but try as she might age is catching up with her. Her magic is focused on warding off death and decay - she can bring creatures back from the brink of death, but she can never restore them completely, giving them a new and twisted form. Gianna carries a staff adorned with teeth and bones, and if pushed into a corner she can tear out the living hearts of those who threaten her, with bare hands.
  • Howlers - Gianna lives in a forest with a band of so-called howlers - tiny beastly creatures that run through the woods at night and make all sorts of eerie noises. They were all human children once, cut down by illness, injury or mere starvation, and given a new life by their dark mother. 
  • Creature formerly known as Rebecca Von Todmorten - the unnaturally tall figure, clad in armour, wrapped in chains and tattered cloth, still possesses a living soul, but not much of her former self remains. To think she used to be a lady, who foolishly ran away from home, chasing freedom and adventure... But she always has been damned, and only drew in those that tried to save her. She knows not why the witch didn't just leave her to die, and it doesn't really matter. There will be no salvation for either of them. Her only wish is to wreak havoc upon those who have slain the last man she cared for.
  • Qrth - seemingly a normal raven, he's actually Gianna's demonic familiar. When unleashed for combat he assumes a form thatis still raven-like, with black wings and talons and a beak, but huge and terrifying to look upon.

Qrth's demonic form.

My warband.
Janos the Cannnibal and his witch-hunting retinue. On orders from his queen, Janos roams the land on a quest to eliminate any traces of dark magic he can find. Queen Ligia considers potential spreading of this corrupting force into her own kingdom a threat.

  • Janos the Cannibal, knight of Folda -  a ruthless slayer with particular hate for the demons and their servants. He does not need the cultists and abominations alive; in fact he makes sure the ones he catches are thoroughly obliterated - by devouring their bodies.
  • Witch Hunters - hand-picked by Janos himself from the ranks of Folda's standing army, Ghoul Witch Hunters are the basic grunts of the crew. They are trained and armed for combat with hand weapons as well as crossbows.  
  • The Gaoler - Cruel and callous interrogators of witches, Ghoul Gaolers inspire terror. Their mastery of creative ways of inflicting pain is infamous across the isles. 
  • Bloodtracker - Just like their vampire overlords, ghouls can end up giving in to their feral side and gradually metamorphose into monsters with lupine features. This is the legacy of the pact made with the Duke of Wolves in the final days of the Ostrom. Janos utilises these agile predators for tracking his quarry.
  • Grey Wolves - wolves are close allies of Folda. Janos values them for their speed and ferocity.


II. THE ENCOUNTER


Gianna arrived in Folda with her Howlers and reanimated Rebecca in tow, to find her sister's head. She did not have to wait long for Janos to appear. The witch hunters emerged from the woods near her campsite, and put up their display of grisly trophies to get the witch's attention.

Provoked by their vicious mockery, Gianna sent forth her minions. Rebecca did away with one of the ghoul witch hunters easily. The others carefully retreated in the shade of the gnarled trees near the trophy poles, firing their crossbows to try keep them at bay.


The monstrous hooded gaoler was also tasked with guarding the head. His overconfidence in the face of a swarm of angry Howlers proved to be his undoing in the end.



While the others were distracting the witch hunters, Qrth came closer disguised as a common raven, clearly waiting for an opportune moment to snatch Vanga's head. Janos saw through Gianna's plan, though, and ended the bird before it had a chance to show its true, demonic form. 


On the other flank, the wolves and the Bloodtracker crept through the woods to get to the witch from behind.

However, they were spotted by a group of Howlers protecting the witch, and had to engage.

After slaying the familiar, Janos waited for the witch to come closer. And she did, eventually. Janos charged at his quarry, but the witch proved more resilient than he expected. With his witch hunters and wolves too far to assist him, he realised he might have made a mistake. Rebecca heard the commotion behind her and turned back - to see her murderer. It was time for vengeance.

With screeching Howlers biting at his ankles, and dead Rebecca soon to join the fight, Janos tried his best to cut down the witch. The wolves managed to slaughter the Howlers that had blocked their path, but by the time they charged to their master's aid he was on the ground, the witch Gianna standing triumphantly above his massive collapsed body. She reached down, plunged her hand into the knight's chest, and ripped out his heart! The wolves threw themselves at her, but once more found her minions blocking their path. The Bloodtracker somehow got through and caught up with the fleeing witch, but he too met a grisly end - his hear torn out while still beating.


A dark day for Folda.
Seeing that all was lost, the remaining two witch hunters began to retreat. One of them still had enough resolve to deny the witch her prise: he grabbed Vanga's shrivelled head and ran for his life. Rebecca tried to chase him down, but she lost him in the forest...

III. THE AFTERMATH


When the surviving witch hunters returned at the scene with the cavalry hours later, the witch was nowhere to be seen. 
The bodies of fallen witch hunters and Janos were carefully carried away to be handed to their families. The gruesome detail of Janos' missing heart caused much alarm and outrage in the kingdom. The two slain wolves were found flayed, which was also perceived as an insult to Folda. They too were buried with honours.


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Well, that's the end of Janos. Witches and cultists everywhere will be happy to hear of his demise.  :D And this means Folda needs a new Witch Hunter General. Who will claim the spot? Will they go after Gianna? What will become of Baba Vanga's head and Janos' heart? Perhaps our next game will be some kind of body part prisoner exchange? We'll find out sometime next year. If you want to see clearer photos of Vladimir's witch warband, keep an eye on his Instagram - they'll appear there eventually. [Edit: here they are: LINK]

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

CXCVI. Folda: Moorland Harpies


Just like wolves of the forest, moorland harpies still honour the old pact with the Martyred King. In times of war, they will fly to Folda's aid.
 
Folda armorial bearings from a pre-Ostrom armorial.

A crowned harpy is on the ghoul kingdom's coat of arms. Has been since long before the Ostrom. However, now in the post-Ostrom age the bird's golden crown has been replaced with a wreath of thorns, to honour the Siege Martyrs and stand as reminder of their sacrifice.

Post-Ostrom depiction of  Folda's national emblem in an illuminated breviary.

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It's always bats with vampires... So I said to myself: let's try something more exotic. I considered giant ravens for a bit, but that also seemed a bit meh...  At the time, I was also thinking hard about what Folda's coat of arms would look like. Didn't want to go with wolf as the emblem again as it's been done a lot, even by me: on the Countess' family arms. Then it hit me while I was browsing my reference image collection: I came across a still of a harpy from Ronja, the Robber's Daughter animated series. This led me to dig up various depictions of harpies, sirens, as well as their descendants: the Russian alkonost and sirin. And this lovely creature solved both the problem of monstrous flyers and the kingdom's emblem! It worked with existing lore and helped shape it further. I love where this faction is going.
If you want to see another take on this type of creature in miniature form, have a look at Borgnine's: LINK. His gorgeous converted undead army project has a criminally low follower count. I don't know why, because it's well worth checking out.

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On the Isles of Brume harpies are birds with no beaks, and with heads that look like womens'. That is why most people believe there are no male harpies, but that is not true. They are simply hard to tell apart, as is the case with most birds of prey. In the kingdom of Folda harpies live on the moor. They build their nests in ruined towers, on top of trees and crags. 



Based on Stormcast Aetherwings. I bought the kit primarily for the birds, and was pleasantly surprised by how big they were. Perfect. As for the heads, looks like I found a use for those microscopic Escher ganger faces! 



Had to change the way they were fixed to their bases. Originally they were cleverly attached via ribbons tied to their legs, but that would not work for my conversions. These harpies are not trained pets, but wild raptors.




What do you think about this idea? And how believable is my faux medieval art? Wish I had the skill and willpower to make a whole illuminated manuscript like this. Some day perhaps...