Sunday 4 January 2015

LXXIX. The Assistant Mk II - Painted

All done.

A drop of Secret Weapon Scenics Realistic Water on the lamp's "eye"makes it look like glass.
All that digging inevitably puts mud on one's clothes.
There is a red cross patch on the Assistant's right shoulder- this symbol appears on several minis throughout the crew.

I've read a bit about body snatching while working on this fellow. The practice was widespread during 18th and 19th centuries, when fresh corpses were on high demand by medical schools of the Western world. The schools, who needed the bodies for dissection and anatomy lessons, could legally get them only from convicted and executed criminals. However, while the number and size of medical schools increased with the progress of medical science, the number of people condemned to death decreased as the laws became more lenient and people were no longer hanged for trifles. As a result, there were simply not enough cadavers to meet the growing demand. This saw the emergence of the resurrectionist profession. 
The resurrection-men operated in small groups. First, a suitable grave needed to be found. They often had gravediggers, undertakers, etc. on their payroll, who would tip them off. Working under cover of darkness, they would dig a hole down to the end of the coffin at the head of the grave. Using crowbars or hooks they would then lift the lid on that end, remaining earth on the coffin providing a counterweight which would snap the wood of the lid. The deceased could then be pulled out, stripped naked (stealing possessions of the dead brought a more severe punishment than stealing a corpse) and put into a sack for transport. Good rezzers could do all this in under half an hour.  
The punishment for taking a body from a grave was a fine or time in prison. However, if a body-snatching gang was caught in the act by outraged locals, they would sometimes take law into their own hands. Lynch mobs are nasty. 
People developed various methods to protect the remains of their dearly departed. There were cemetary patrols, watchdogs, watchtowers, mortsafes (metal cages encasing the coffin), mort houses (where bodies were safely stored until they decomposed far enough to be useless for dissection)... 

All in all, it's a fairly morbid, but interesting topic.

Friday 2 January 2015

LXXVIII. The Assistant Mk II

Happy New Year, everyone!

*   *   *

I'll open 2015 with a new version of the Plague Doctor's Assistant. The old mini is not bad and I'm fond of it, but the modern-looking bone saw he wields is a tad too high-tech to belong in the setting. Besides giving the new version a more suitable weapon, I wanted to achieve a more outdoor look, with garments and equipment the Assistant would wear if he were sent to fetch a fresh corpse from the cemetery for one of the Doctor's experiments. When developing the concept, I drew reference from Jeremiah Crow (one of my favourite Smog 1888 minis) and old Space Skaven concept art by Jess Goodwin.

Here is the final concept sketch.

Like a proper resurrectionist, the Assistant carries his trusty shovel and a lamp for lighting his way around dark graveyards. There's also a pistol and a knife, as means of defence from anyone or anything that might interrupt his morbid midnight work. 

Although he first sketches had him wearing a plague doctor's mask like the original Assistant, he ended up with just a pair of goggles. I saw Nordic's Nomad over at Ammobunker, and really liked the way he turned the Empire Wizard's tall pointy cap into a hat by adding a plasticard brim. I wanted to incorporate that detail, but in the end left the cap as it was - as you will see on the mini itself. 

The bits used come from lots of sources. The torso comes from an Empire Huntsman. The robe underneath that, as well as his upper arms are green stuff. The gloved hands came from a 40K Chaos Cultist and the lamp from the WHFB Dwarf Miner kit (though modified to a certin extent). The head is that of a plastic Empire Wizard, but with added goggles, green stuff moustache and extra chins (the wizard's face was way too skinny). The pouches, goggles and shovel come from Victoria Miniatures. The pistol is from Freebooter Miniatures...

Now I just need to slap some paint on the fellow. I expect his clothing will mostly be in different shades of brown, but I'll work it out as I go along.
*   *   *

Also, last week I more-or-less finished all the 13s of the second Fate Deck. These have the most elaborate artwork, and I even covered their shields in shiny gold foil. Now I'm just a pair of Jokers away from a finished deck.