That’s the old Warhammer spirit! Creative modeling and a dark fantasy feel.
I just read this post on House of Paincakes, from Jungles of Lustria, and it really interested me. I don’t play Warhammer Fantasy Battle these days so I hadn’t realized that this was going on in the community, but seriously, what a great idea! Apparently there’s some controversy, some people think it’s cheating or whatever, but unless you love being punished by Games Workshop and think we should all line up and take our medicine I can’t see how you could object.
This looks to me like an obvious adaptation to the increasing problem of scale in Games Workshop’s flagship games. It really warms my heart. Companies will naturally try to push you into spending as much money as you can bear, but the humble consumer will always find a way around their tricks eventually if the price is seen as exploitative. Unit fillers solve the problem of the wallet- excruciating, game-retarding number of models WHFB requires these days, and simultaneously encourage imaginative modeling. Win-win!
If only 40k wasn’t a fake skirmish game I could make some for my Imperial Guard platoons . . .
It can be really fun to think of counts-as armies and units for 40k. There are so many great gems in the long-running background of the game that are crying out for imaginative modelling. When I was younger I used to enjoy the wholesale invention of units and rules, but nowadays I prefer to work within the framework of the existing rules for a few reasons.
Firstly, it gives you more freedom to use your awesome counts-as force competitively or against someone you’ve never met without having to worry about balance or accusations of cheating. Secondly, I find it hard to know when to stop modifying a system – at what point does it stop being Warhammer 40k and start being My Totally Awesome 40k-Derivative Sci-fi Wargame? Counts-as solves all those problems, plus I find it fun to try to fit old or untreated ideas into the existing material.
So without further ado, here are a few counts-as ideas I’ve had. Some are more original than others, and some are for units rather than armies. I should probably add that they are all themed, not counts-as for the purposes of competitive play. So there’s no Space Wolves as Ultramarines or anything like that.
Feel free to use any of these ideas or add your own, I know I’ll never get around to making any of them (probably): Continue reading
or, Fan Culture and the death of inspiration
I need this because I'm the geekiest of all my friends. Which makes me cooler than them.
Yesterday Von at Game Over mentioned self-referential geek/nerd culture in this post (which itself referred to this one, which referred to this one), and how annoying it is. I’ve actually thought about this a lot in the last year or two, and now that I have this blog I have the opportunity to present my own take on the issue. Thanks to Von and the other bloggers for reminding me.
I sincerely hope you can all ignore the crippling irony of me writing a post responding to a post about a post on the self-referential nature of geek culture, on my blog about traditionally geeky activities. If you can (and you don’t mind reading a little), please read on . . . Continue reading
So, the first models just arrived to kick off my Iybraesil Eldar. I got some rangers from eBay, and I have to mention how great the seller was. I’ve been scammed by sellers in the UK a few times when buying hobby stuff. This guy took ages to post the item and didn’t reply to my first message, so I was understandably getting worried. But then he got back to me and said he’d had some computer trouble and would throw in a free gift to make amends. The rangers arrived a week or so later with a free striking scorpion! The most awesome thing about this is that I was planning to include a squad of Scorpions in my 500 points, and now I have an extra elf. So there you go. There are honest people out there.
I was a bit stuck on how I was going to base my army. I want them to look like creepy, eldtritch night Eldar. Not evil or sadistic like Dark Eldar, more a sort of bad faerie feel like WHFB Wood Elves and Dryads in their destructive aspect. I think the bases will be an important part of getting this across, so I don’t just want to give them urban hive-city bases to match my table. I want an evil forest look, to show that they are actually exploring a Crone World (I imagine quite a few Crone Worlds are creepy, corrupted forest planets). I got some Dryad back branches because they have evil little spites on them and look crooked and mean.
Checking Google for “evil forest”pictures, I found something interesting. I assumed that darker would be creepier, but most of the scariest images it seems to me are quite pale, or they have dark and light elements but are washed out. Like these:
Apologies if this is your artwork - it shows up a fair bit on Google but I couldn't find the orginal anywhere.
OK so the hideous ghost in the foreground and the words "HAUNTED FOREST" probably help make this picture scary. But the trees do look a bit freaky.
I’m not sure why washed out, pale tones look scary when it comes to woodland scenes but they do. Maybe the lack of contrast reminds us of night time and wakes up animal instincts? Or maybe Japanese horror movies and the Blair Witch Project have made us afraid of black and white! Whatever the reason, I think I’m going to go for pale branches and dark, almost black grass. I’ll post pics when the first rangers are done.
In a classic scene from David Lynch's 1984 film, Dune, Captain Picard oversees a duel between Sting and that dude from Sex and the City
Welcome to another Unseen Influences. Today I’m going to talk a little about Frank Herbert’s Dune, and its influence on the background of 40k.
Dune is widely held to be one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time, and is certainly one of the best-selling. Unlike the very specific influence that Michael Moorcock had on the early development of Games Workshop’s lore, Dune’s influence was much wider and more diffuse. This is because Dune is one of the first modern science fantasy stories, and the universe of Warhammer 40,000 is squarely within that genre.
These things are notoriously difficult to define, but a good working definition I think is that science fiction tells a story in a universe exactly like our own but with different technology, and science fantasy tells a fantasy story using the traditional trappings of science fiction (aliens, space, lasers, etc). Basically, if it would make Asimov turn in his grave, it’s science fantasy. Read on . . .
Michael Moorcock's Elric
No mortal nightmare could encompass such a terrible vision . . . Every so often, the ground heaved and erupted and any human beings unfortunate enough to be in the area were either engulfed and totally transformed or had their bodies warped in indescribable ways. The noise was dreadful, a blending of human voices and roaring Chaos sounds, devil’s wailing laughter, and quite often, the tortured scream of a human soul who had perhaps relented his choice of loyalty and now suffered madness. – Michael Moorcock, Stormbringer (1965)
The fictional universes created by Games Workshop are pretty amazing beasts. They have grown from the quaint open settings of the 1970s and 80s to the unique visions people all over the world enjoy today. It would be fair to say that the GW universes now have a strong influence on new fantasy and sci-fi, particularly the latter. It is quite common to hear the sentiment that the best thing about the GW games is their rich and unique backgrounds.
In this new series of articles I’m going to briefly shed some light on some of the lesser known early influences that have helped to make GW’s lore so rich and diverse. Of course, all creative work is informed by earlier stuff. No-one creates in a vacuum and anyone who claims to have told a story that has never been told before is either naive or a liar. I’m not accusing GW of being unoriginal, or suggesting that these works were the first of their kind and were somehow stolen – I just think it’s important to know where you’re coming from.
So, with the intro out of the way, let’s start with one of the most iconic of GW’s factions, the warriors of Chaos! In Today’s Unseen Influences we are going to look at the early work of the British fantasy author Michael Moorcock. Continue reading