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.


*   *   *

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.

*
 
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.

*

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...

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

CXCV. November Again: Stuff

On the first of this month, Gardens of Hecate had its sixth birthday. It's been another good year, so I thought I'd celebrate by sharing some interesting non-miniature stuff I accumulated through the past months. If you've been following the blog for a while, you'll know that besides miniatures I like to make and collect other attractive game-related objects.

DICE



A selection from my modest collection of dice. I obviously favour bone/ivory coloured ones. I regret never buying the Maelstrom Dice GW released not a long time ago; pretty basic, skulls in place of 1s, but gothic numbers instead of pips. If anyone has them in ivory colour and wants to trade off a few, do let me know.  [Edit: got the Maelstrom dice. Thanks WarbossKurgan!]



For carrying them to games, I find mint tins are a good solution. Also fits my AoS 3'' combat gauge.


INQUISITOR'S DISPLAY AND TRANSPORT CASE

 



A new wooden box; you've seen it in the Cerulean Gate photos. It was made for Morbray & co. INQ28 warband. There are slots for nine figures, so I think I'll make that many. Since they will be all plastic or resin, magnets were a viable option. Learning from my past mistakes, I installed the magnets in the box rather than under the models' bases. The bases have small ferromagnetic coins glued underneath. The slots inside the box were built using balsa wood. The box is not quite finished yet, as I plan to add some artwork and other paper stuff inside and outside on the lid. And, obviously, the names of the future warband members to label their slots.



FOLDING RULER

These wooden measuring devices are iconic in the INQ28 crowd, I'd say. Though they may not be as functional as a tape measure in many cases, they sure are way prettier to look at and handle. After some hunting on ebay, I finally found one that was suitable.


EMPEROR'S TAROT


Blanche-illustrated 21-card deck, printed years ago for an event game at Warhammer World. A pretty rad thing to have; came back from Nottingham with my Tor Megiddo warband the time they went for their White Dwarf photo shoot.


VOX POPULI DECK

 



A poker deck illustrated by Moritz Krebs. Each card has a unique character on it. Krebs' style is very 'Mordheim', so I'm a fan. So much so that I bought an original to hang on my wall:


I love the fact that the envelope the drawing came in even had a little doodle on it, and was sealed with a black wax seal. Inevitably, now I'm considering having my own seal made...


If you're not familiar with Krebs' artwork, do yourself a favour and check him out on Instagram: @blackcrabart.

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The first issue of 28, a magazine that focuses on unique and personal projects of the Warhammer hobby, is almost upon us. We've put out a few teasers of the content in the past couple weeks. If you don't want to miss updates and the eventual release of volume one, you can follow us on Instagram, Facebook and our own website 28-mag.com. The magazine will be a free-to-download digital publication.





Tuesday, 13 November 2018

CXCIV. Ghoul Gaoler and Bloodtracker

Folda witch hunters' newest recruits. 

Ghoul Gaoler


Cruel and callous interrogators of witches, Ghoul Gaolers inspire terror. Their mastery of creative ways of inflicting pain is infamous across the isles.


The model was based on a Bloater from Nurgle's Rotters Bloodbowl team. I deflated his gut, got rid of the shoulder pads and sculpted a hood. Keys came from the Nighthaunt range. The manacles and torture implements had to be sculpted from scratch. It was fiddly work and I wasn't sure I could pull it off, but they do look alright in the end.






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.

This conversion is based on a Pestigor from Nurgle's Rotters Bloodbowl team. Great dynamic pose. Wolf head was sculpted over the trimmed down original head. Hoofed feet needed to be turned into paws. Plus a few minor changes here and there.


The Ghoul Witch Hunters got new heads. The helmets were cool, but when I put them next to the rest of the Folda models they lacked coherence. You can also see two more grisly sticks: a hag's severed head and another, bigger crown of thorns.



The crew is now all set to go chasing witches:
  • Janos the Cannibal (leader)
  • 3 Ghoul Witch Hunters
  • 1 Ghoul Gaoler
  • 1 Bloodtracker
  • 6 Wolves

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

CXCIII. Cerulean Gate


Back home from the neighbouring Serbia, where I took part in Cerulean Gate: an INQ28 game organised at a Belgrade convention by my friend Vladimir Matić-Kurylev. Apart from the two of us, there were four more participants in the game: local players who were interested in trying this kind of gaming. Thanks for inviting me, organising everything, and making me feel welcome in your city!


MY WARBAND


My warband consisted of Inquisitor Morbray and her two henchmen: Vygotsky and Jonas. I was going to bring a Sister of Battle as well, but unfortunately the model I ordered failed to turn up in time. So Rosanda's warband got the aid of two NPCs: her colleague Inquisitor Sava the Black and his guard Alex Van Der Zint.  
 

 
Little is known about Inquisitor Morbray, but there are rumours abound. She speaks little, in an electronic, robotic voice; and never reveals her face. The latter inspired a variety of stories to explain what's hiding behind that veil. Some say she was a noblewoman, and her face was horribly scarred with a knife. Others will insist that she was burnt in a fire as a child, or that she was born disfigured: without a nose or ears, and her parents put her in a monastery to hide her away... But all agree that her sinister act makes their skin crawl. It is quite likely many of the rumours actually came from Rosanda herself. Inquisitor Morbray does not usually keep her henchmen with her for long. This is partly since she obviously tries very hard to keep an aura of mystery and fear around herself, and partly because she very easily sacrifices the lives of those in her service.

*

OTHER WARBANDS AND NPCs


Inquisitor Chrissmin Kincaide and retinue, by Vladimir Matić-Kurylev.
Inquisitor Dominica Eldridge and retinue, by Miloš Maksimović.


Lodge of the Seven Pillars, by Miloš Petrik.

Inquisitor Rathbone and retinue, by Bojan Kavedžić.

Rogue Trader Imad Gar-Noolein and company, by Dorian Mogoš.
 
Alex Van Der Zint, Vsevold Khirzig and Sava the Black, NPCs, by Vladimir Matić-Kurylev.

*

THE GAME


Rosanda Morbray first became aware of, and interested in, the Cerulean Gate when she heard Inquisitor Chrissmin Kincaide might be having some heretical intentions with it. Eager to investigate, and possibly have another clash with the daemonic, she headed straight to the Gate's remote location. She joined forces with Inquisitor Sava the Black, who was better acquainted with Kincaide. However, ne did not know either exactly what the nature of his business with the Gate artifact was.

As Morbray approaced the tall concrete structure holding the Gate, she saw she was not alone there. In the decaying ruins of machinery and abandoned slums surrounding the structure, other groups of warriors were closing in. And high up, at the Gate itself, there were people moving about. Morbray proceeded cautiously, using the ruins, and her henchmen, as cover. 
 
 

Someone managed to scale the Gate structure's side and begin banging on the blue door. The figures around the Gate reacted with alarm. Some of them started descending slightly, and as Morbray and her men came closer Sava recognised Kincaide's armour-clad form. A winged mechanical creature swooped down, and was seen claiming a finely crafted case from the group of green-robed monks on Morbray's right flank. The winged thing proceeded to fly the case up to the gate, where it was received by Kincaide's henchmen.  Attempts to establish communication with them were unsuccessful. The others present proceeded to fire at each other as Morbray's retinue made for the stairs of the Gate structure. 

 


 
  
The ascent was tedious, but no fire was coming directly at them, and it seemed all who were on the stairs were eager to get out of the way. Brother Jonas was at the vanguard clearing the path, and Vygotsky covered the rear, scanning the battlefield and ready to shoot at any threat to the Inquisitors.


The Commotion from above and the strange feeling that enveloped everyone gave Morbray a hint that the gate might have been pulled open. As the fighters from several present factions simultaneously reached the Gate's level, they saw that was true. A swirling, shimmering tear in reality. A carved wand, which was clearly the contents of the mysterious case the monks were carrying, was in the hands of Kincaide's doctor. Sava demanded explanation from Kincaide, at which he revealed that he was in fact holding a Daemon inside of him, and was clearly intending to somehow banish it into the Cerulean Gate. 

 

Sava and Rosanda used their psychic powers to incapacitate Kincaide and the remaining resistance from his retinue. 

"We should just toss him in...," Inquisitor Morbray said. 

There were no objections.
 

  
As the Gate was once again closed, and the present parties agreed on a ceasefire, the Inquisitors started the debate on the site's fate. Should we secure and fortify it? Or destroy it forever?

*
The Daemon we did not allow to manifest.
The rules we used were modified Kill Team, and all the models' stats were custom. No points cost, minis came first and the rules were made to match the minis best as we could. The game took a whole afternoon. Vlad's board was really nice, and packed with scenery. All the above photos were shot after the game; looks like Vlad accepted my approach to this - only he hired a professional photographer, which I think was a great idea.  But just for the sake of completion, here are some of my pictures from the game itself, shot with a potato (much of this was already on Instagram on Saturday).