The Four Strands Modeling, Painting, Gaming and Storytelling

23Jun/160

A day of mourning, a day of hope

The first week must be the hardest, though Antonius as Captain Dakota of the Azure Flames 6th company briefed him on the resupply schedule of the Strike Cruiser Honor.

“The Munitorum just now has sorted out all of the requests from Imperial Navy vessels that have stayed behind to mop up the Ork forces in the Julius system.  We can finally resupply, and I can see that the Honor has the most stores of any ship in the fleet.  I need to be able to swap out supplies to refresh the stocks of His Hammer II, which saw the most action of any ship during the entire Chasma Spica conflict.”

“Sir…” Antonius began before Dakota interrupted him with a chortle.

“Sir?  You haven’t called me that in a long time.” Dakota said with a smile.

“You have quite a short memory, it was two months ago.”  Antonius retorted.

Dakota dismissively waved his hand.  “That was when you were a mere Battle Brother, Captain Antonius.  Besides, it has been a long two months.”

“That’s an understatement.  Feel free to take anything we have, Captain.  We are all brothers here.”

“Thank you, Antonius.  I’m sure that once we have a more complete survey of all the planets in…” Dakota cut off as a faint noise emanated from his earpiece.  He touched it, and a microphone deployed.  “Dakota.  Yes.  Understood.  I’m on my way.”  He turned his gaze back to Antonius.  “Come, Captain, we have a Thunderhawk flight to charter.  There is a meeting of the full Senior Staff aboard His Hammer II in the main conference room.”

“A full meeting?  But we have just secured Iperin as our homeworld!  We have not even begun pouring foundations for the Fortress Monastery.  We can’t be going on another crusade.”

“If the Emperor has need of us, then we go.” Dakota replied in a dour tone.  “Let us hope that no Imperial power wishes to challenge our right of conquest to Iperin.”

Antonius suppressed a shudder.  Without help from Inquisitor Voltman Kalmsan, The Azure Flames may well have come to blows with the Adeptus Mechanicus over the quarantine of the Menelaus during the Chasma Spica conflict.  If those delicate assurances had crumbled…

“Let’s go.” Antonius said.  Dakota nodded.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Antonius and Dakota strode into a darkened hallway, lit only by candles.  The faint aroma of incense wafted from censers on either side of the hall.  Near the end was a door with several bands of plasteel securing it.  Next to the door, a servo skull hovered above an autoscrivener with a roll of aged parchment that rolled up from the floor.  As Antonius and Dakota approached the skull scanned them with a red laser.

“Who comes?  Who comes?  Who comes?” The skull croaked in a mechanically augmented voice.

“Zeraf Antonius, Master of the Marches, Captain of the Strike Cruiser Honor.” Antonius replied as tradition said he should.

“Come in remembrance, and leave with purpose.” The skull intoned as the doors slid open.

“What?” Antonius exclaimed.  The skull did not answer.  “That isn’t the normal greeting.”

“No, it’s not.” answered Dakota.  “Go inside, I’ll be there in a moment.”

Antonius went through the door into a small antechamber.  He knelt before a small statue of Vulkan and offered a short prayer of devotion.  As he rose, Dakota came in behind him and repeated the ritual.  Antonius picked up a small padded mallet and rang a small gong hanging by the door into the main chamber three times.

“Enter.” A voice called.  Antonius carefully opened the door and went into the conference room.  A large table with data displays inlaid stretched from one end of the long room to the other.  Around the table were fourteen large steel benches, built to accommodate power armour.  At the far end, a larger, more ornate throne held the bulky frame of Perseus, the new Chapter Master, clad in his Terminator Armour, armed for war.  Around the table, most of the spaces were taken by the other captains of the ten companies of the Azure Flames.  To Perseus’ right was Chaplain Alexsandr, the Master of Sanctity in his black armour.  To his left, Ory-Hara, the Chief Librarian, clad in a blue hood and a mask that hid all but his eyes.  At the opposite end of the table sat Senior Apothecary Luiz and Jelnac, Master of the Forge.  Several of the other captains were seated in the places they took by tradition, but many seats were still empty.  Antonius took his, nodding to Perseus.  Perseus did not acknowledge the gesture.

He knows Antoinus thought.   Only someone who knew Antonius’ secret would give him that look of both trepidation and admiration.  Antonius turned to Apothecary Luiz who gave him the same look.  One week ago, on the day of his promotion to Captain, Luiz had told Antonius that he was the only gene-son of Atrus, the former Chapter Master and the man who saved the Azure Flames.  Atrus’ visions from the Emperor gave the chapter a new purpose.  Now, with Atrus gone, Antonius felt that he had lost a father.  Again.

Dakota entered quickly after Antonius, and the room was silent again.  Other Captains eventually filled the room until all fifteen members of the Senior Staff were present.  Perseus stood and spoke in a loud, clear voice.

“Let all who have come here speak not outside these walls of our counsel, save for the one voice in which we all speak.  Let loose words not in hatred, save for the alien, the mutant, the heretic.  Fear not your own voice, for here it is all you are armed with.  Do you so swear?”

The room answered as a chorus.  “On our honor, and by the teachings of Vulkan, we so swear.”

As soon as the echo of the group’s reply faded, Perseus sat. “We are not going to war.” he said.  Puzzled looks came from all but a few.

“Then what did you call us here for, old man?” shouted Leonidas, Captian of the first company.  His green gauntleted fist pounded the countertop.  Antonius briefly reflected on Leonidas’ livery; he was a living reminder that the Azure Flames had once been the Sons of the Salamander, and he took the duty of being that reminder very seriously.

“I have called you all here because we have all lost something.” Perseus answered.

“Yes.” the monotone mechanical voice of Edgard of the 3rd Company spoke up. “I have my revenge against the successors of Victor Kalan.  I slew dozens of aliens and heretics for each of my brothers that were taken from us by the Alliance.  Yet now there is only emptiness.  We have no purpose.”  Edgard was slouched over in sorrow, and Antonius heard the servos in his torso actuate as he corrected himself and sat up properly.  Edgard had survived the worst injuries imaginable, but he seemed to be in real pain now.

“We have a purpose.” Khalil of the 8th company retorted.  “Atrus told me just before he died.  He said that a true hero fights until his dying breath, knowing only what is in his heart.”

Jelnac, Master of the Forge, muttered “I still cannot believe that Atrus did not let his Techmarine bodyguard go with him.”  Though he was almost too quiet to hear, the anger in his voice was palpable.

“No one doubts the resolve of any of our brothers, Khalil.” Perseus said as if Jelnac had not spoken.  “We will live up to the memory of the man who shaped our chapter.  However, without his vision and drive, we must re-assess the purpose of the Azure Flames.  We sought to banish the darkness in the vision that Atrus had so long ago, and we did so with honor.  But now we must find a new purpose.”

“What is the purpose of any Space Marine chapter?” mused Zhuang of the 2nd company.  “We fight the enemies of the Imperium, and vanquish foes that give ordinary men pause.  We must simply adapt to this new role.”

A memory floated up, unbidden in Antonius’ mind.  It was pervasive; he could not dismiss it.

***Antonius looked out through someone else’s eyes.  He looked on as a younger version of Zhuang in Scout Armour lay broken and bleeding on the floor of a dark room.  Apothecaries came in to tend him, but he righted himself, pushed off of his knee, and stood.  Bright crimson blood ran from his mouth, nose, ears, and eyes.  He walked out of the room and the vision faded.***

As Antonius looked around the room, the rest of the council seemed to refocus their eyes, recovering from experiencing the same memory.  All but Ory-Hara, who stared daggers at Zhuang.

“Is this why you stood after the Final Trial of Brotherhood, Zhuang?” Perseus’ tone was almost accusatory.  “To join ‘just another chapter?’  No.  You are the only member of the Azure Flames since Atrus created that trial to walk out of the Black Room on your own two feet.  Are you content with mediocrity, Zhuang?”

“No, my lord.” Zhuang answered.

“Nor should any of you be.” Perseus continued.   “Atrus is gone.  We will all mourn him in our own way.  But he did not leave us only to have us turn our backs on all that we have built.”

“I have taught all of you, save Perseus and Alexsandr.” The rough, gravelly voice of Daniel, captain of the 10th company, was so nostalgic to Antonius that his Power Armour seemed far too big for him.  “With those two exceptions, I watched you all fire your first Boltgun.  I saw you go into battle for the first time.  I watched you grow, and I personally made the recommendation to Atrus, and before him Chapter Master Logain, to promote you all to full Brotherhood.” He turned to Perseus. “My lord, you are my oldest friend.  Know that I mean no disrespect, but you know as well as I that no one in this room would ever turn their backs on Atrus, the Chapter, or any of our history.”

Perseus sighed. “You are right, Daniel.  Zhuang, I apologize.”

“No, the fault is my own.” Zhuang replied. “I was avoiding thinking about the future, because I do not know what we are to do.”  He paused for a moment before adding: “Atrus always knew what to do.”

“Indeed, but we are bereft of his advice.” Valerien, captain of the 9th company answered. “We shall always remember the past, but it is our duty now to look to the future.”

“There’s always a choice…” Antonius surprised himself as those words left his mouth.  Everyone turned to him, and he felt the closest thing to fear that he had felt in a long time.

“A choice, Antonius?  We have no choice.  We must carry on, as we always have.” Valerien said.

“That’s not what I meant, but I can’t…” Antonius trailed off.  He knew what was right in his heart, but the words would not come.  Suddenly, he felt inspiration flow through his mind like a bolt of lightning.  “Ory-Hara, I need to share a memory with everyone.  Can you help me?”

Ory Hara nodded slowly, and stood.  He walked behind Perseus, and came down Antonius’ side of the table.  Antonius leaned his head back.  Ory-Hara’s gauntleted hand hovered above him.  With a click, a rectangular compartment opened in Ory-Hara’s palm.  As the armour opened, Antoinus saw the rubbery surface of the Black Carapace.  In the middle, was a small, circular hole about 2.5 centimeters across, exposing the pale flesh of a human palm.  Ory-Hara lowered his hand to Antonius’ head, and Antonius quickly went through the meditation techniques he learned to empty his mind of all thought.  A candle appeared in his mind, sporting a bright, blue flame.  Into this flame, Antonius pushed his hesitation, his excitement, and his pride.  He floated in nothingness for a fraction of a second, and then let himself remember.

***Antonius walked into the chapel of the Strike Cruiser Honor.  All of the sergeants were there, as well as Antonius’ predecessor, Captain Ganendra and Chaplain Hakan.  Captain Ganendra formally ordered him to take command of the 5th Tactical Sqaud.  Chaplain Hakan distributed devotional wine, and everyone drank.

Except Gehn.  Gehn stared.***

As the room once again shook off the effects of Ory-Hara’s memory sharing, he heard someone spit.  A small plume of acrid smoke emanated from the plasteel countertop in front of Leonidas.

“GAAAAH!  Antonius, you dare to soil our council devoted to the memory of a great man by remembering that… TRAITOR?” Leonidas shouted.

“We have to remember Gehn.” Antonius answered.  “You see, Gehn had a choice.  He could have let his jealousy and anger go.  He could have remembered that his oaths to the Emperor were stronger than his own ego.  Instead, he chose to let that jealousy and anger consume him, and turned to the Ruinous Powers.”  Antonius stood as he gained momentum. “We can choose to fade into the background.  We can take this system and build a fortress that rivals The Fang, and forever cut ourselves off from an uncaring galaxy.  We can be just like every other chapter that squats in their Fortress Monasteries and deigns to bless the battlefields with their presence.  Or…”

Antonius looked around, suddenly a bit self conscious.  Chaplain Alexsandr’s harsh Valhallan accent split the room. “FINISH, boy!” Antonius suddenly felt himself full of confidence.

“Or,” Antonius continued “we can make Iperin our home.  We can turn this world into a bright candle that banishes the darkness.  We can share our home with those who have had their homes and families taken from them, like mine was.  Like Ory-Hara.  Like Edgard.  Like so many of our brothers. Even Atrus himself.”

“Seek not to put yourself above mankind, for from whence you came, so you must serve.” Chaplain Alexsander intoned.

“The words of Vulkan.”  Everyone around the table said as a chorus.

“Atrus gave us a quest.” Antonius continued.  “He led us on a crusade, never settling in any one place, so that we would be ready to face the darkness he saw.  Our quest is over.  Now we have a choice.  Do we let our grief consume us, or do we let it drive us?  We should start a new quest.  To defend those who cannot protect themselves.  To avenge what cannot be protected.  And to bring light to those plunged into darkness and despair.”

Another memory rushed into Antonius’ mind.

***Once more, Antonius saw through the eyes of another.  The huge bulk of Atrus in his Dreadnought body was standing next to him as they gazed upon the smoking but intact silhouette of Tenkath Hive.  “A great victory.” a voice from behind Antonius’ eyes said.  “The shields held, and the traitors have been purged.”

Atrus sighed. “Yes, it is a great victory.”  His tone, even through speakers, was grandfatherly and regal, but tinged with sadness.  “But so many will be trapped in this dark place.  You fought along its streets, Ory-Hara.  You saw the living conditions these poor souls endure.  This place is no Releeshahn.”

“What does that mean, my lord?” the voice that was Ory-Hara’s inquired.

“Ah, yes.” Atrus turned to face Ory-Hara.  “Releeshahn is a legend from my old homeworld.  It means ‘city of light’ in our old tongue.    Releeshahn was a fictional city where none suffered, and there was light and music and happiness.”  Atrus turned to Tenkath Hive again.  “Every human life is worth saving.  I just wish we could give them better than… this.”***

Perseus stood.  “All of you know that I took the mantle of Chapter Master reluctantly.  I felt that I could not do justice to the legacy of Atrus.  That reluctance is now gone.  We have a new quest that will drive us.  For every world that we save, we will offer asylum to those whose lives have been destroyed by war.  For every world we lose, we will salvage what can be saved.  Our Fortress Monastery will be the capital of a shining city of hope.  And we will call it Releeshahn.”

Everyone rose and cheered.  Except Ory-Hara, who remained silent.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jelen awoke to darkness, as she had several times before.  Her throat was raw and dry from shouting.  She shifted from the jagged piece of plascrete that was her bed and once again began to feel around the ruined chamber she was trapped in.  Nothing.  Again.  She began to sob.

“I want my daddy…” she repeated again and again.

Suddenly, from outside the rubble, noise.  The bad bugs had come back to kill her.  All sound in her throat died.  Her chest tightened, and she began to shake.

“STAND BACK!” came a voice, loud despite being muffled by the debris.  The words snapped Jelen out of her shock.  She scooted back away from where the voice had come.  A brilliantly shining blue axe head appeared.  It disappeared and returned faster than Jelen had ever seen something move.  As it widened a hole in the wall, Jelen heard shouting with each stroke.  Dark blue gauntlets reached through either side of the newly formed hole and ripped the wall asunder.  Standing in the light was an Angel.

“Are you all right?” the Angel said.

The events of the past weeks all flooded into her at once.  The sirens.  The war.  Her daddy running out to draw the spores away.  That awful sound.  The collapse.  Being trapped for days in the ruins.  She ran towards the Angel and held on to his greave.  Horrible sobs wracked her chest.

“Majeed?  Antonius.” The Angel spoke in hushed tones.  “Bring me some water and a blanket from the emergency supplies.”  He paused. “Yes, I know.  Hurry.”  The Angel gently patted her filthy hair with his dark blue gauntlet.  “It’s alright, you’re safe now.  We will not let the aliens come for you.”

“My…” Jelen hiccupped incoherently.  “My… My… daddy… is… he…”

“What is your name child?” the Angel asked.

“J… Jel... Jel… Jelen.”

“Hello Jelen.  I am Antonius.  The Emperor sent me and my brothers to protect you.”  As the Angel said this, a vehicle appeared from behind a ruined building.  It plowed rubble out of its way with a forked blade on its prow.  It was the same deep blue of the Angel’s armour.  It was boxy with a sloped font, clean lines, and a wicked looking turret with a long barreled cannon and two smaller glowing guns flanking it.  As it approached, it slowed.  Another Angel disembarked through a rectangular hatch on the side, emblazoned with a bright blue flame symbol.

“You had to drive here?” Antonius said.

The other Angel smiled.  “You said to hurry, my lord.”  He handed Antonius a blanket, which Antonius wrapped around Jelen.  He lifted her and took her into the vehicle. The inside was cramped, and full of other Angels.  Counting Antonius, there were six total.  All blue except one which was white.  She sipped water from a canteen the other Angel gave her.

“Brothers, this is Jelen.  She is the only one we’ve found.  We must fall back and relieve Captain Edgard and the remaining defence force of Ifan III.  Make this girl’s safety your first priority.”  Jelen’s howl of grief managed to drown out the growl of the engine as the vehicle jerked into motion.

“I… I… lost my daddy.” she sobbed.

“I lost my father, just like you did.”  Antonius said.  Jelen was so shocked her crying immediately ceased.

“But, you’re an Angel.” she said.

“Before I was an Angel, I was little, just like you.  How did he die?  It’s alright if you don’t want to remember.”

“Daddy was carrying me down the street.  We saw those spore things.  There were lots and lots.  Daddy put me in the storage room, and told me not to come out.  I heard him run away.  Then there was a big boom.  The wall and ceiling fell down.  I couldn’t get out…”  She trailed off.

“Your father was very brave.”  Antonius said.

“How did your daddy die?”  Jelen asked.

Antonius looked down at the floor.

“It’s alright if you don’t wanna remember.”  She said, patting him on the greave.

“Tell her, my lord.”  The white Angel said.  Antonius looked up at him for what seemed like a long time.  His face, taut with anguish, softened slightly.

“Alright.  I’ll tell you how he died, saving me and all my brothers.”  He turned to her.  “His name was Atrus, and he was a great man.”

26Mar/160

A Typical Day

“It’s so good to have someone who will just listen.” Poindexta Smartyskull said to Loudmouf Sneakilla.  Loudmouf nodded in reply, as his loudener speakers were switched off.  Loudmouf gestured towards some black smoke coming from the Gargant known as Da Gentul Teddy Bear, and shrugged his shoulders.

“Ah,” Smartyskull answered “Manik must be hard at work again.  It’s good to know that he keeps my Gargant in good condition.  I hope that during this maintenance that no one steals his bike again.  Last time I lost two perfectly good trukks and…”

*K-ponk*

Smartyskull was interrupted by an object striking him in the side of the head.  It bounced harmlessly off the rusty steel of his mega-armour, and hit the ground with a squelching noise.  Reluctantly, Smartyskull looked down to see what had struck him and to his amazement, found that it was an Ork head wearing a Stormboy’s helmet.  Smartyskull struggled the right arm out of the sheath that held his Big Shoota, and reached down to pick up the head.  It was Jobba.  Surprisingly, the still form of the head jerked to life as Smartyskull looked into Jobba’s eyes.  Jobba’s lips formed the words “Hiya Boss!” though no sound came out.  Jobba’s eyes then darkened and he stopped moving.  Smartyskull flung the head behind him, put his arm back in his armour, and turned to Loudmouf.

“Loudmouf, if you would, please get me Rukkstud.”  Loudmouf beamed, and turned on his speakers.  Before Smartyskull could stop him, he bellowed

“RUKKSTUD!”

The wave of Loudmouf’s shout hit Smartyskull like a Wreckin’ Ball.  His Ork instincts made him try to reach out and smash Loudmouf across the jaw.  Being dazed, he missed, and fell over.  As Loudmouf helped him to his feet, he began to regain his senses.  Just in time for another loud boom followed by the hiss of pistons.

“Yer wanted ta see me Boss?” Rukkstud shouted.  Smartyskull opened his eyes, blinked several times, and was finally able to make out the form of Rukkstud, awkwardly saluting with one of his gigantic adamantium piston arms, and awkwardly balancing on the other arm, and his choppa.  The choppa was being held at a ridiculous angle by a hand protruding from Rukkstud’s pant leg.  Smartyskull sighed.

“Rukkstud, you know that I approve of your leadership style.  You are one of the few in this camp that appreciates military structure and discipline.”

“Sir!  Yessir!  Boss!  Sir!” Rukkstud shouted.

“However, if I am pelted by another piece of your soldiers, I will conclude that you cannot keep proper discipline, or that your aim is too poor, and I will assign you to being a Deffdread.  Do I make myself clear?”

“Sir!  Yessir!  Boss!  Sir!  Sir!  Boss!”

“Dismissed.” Smartyskull make a waving action with his power klaw, and with that, Rukkstud bounded into the air on a column of acrid gray smoke.  Smartyskull held his breath and walked away from the site, followed closely by Loudmouf.  “One day.” He muttered under his breath so that Loudmouf would not hear.  “One day without… this.  Is that too much to ask, Mork?”

25Mar/160

Belated Highland Deathwatch Camapign: Round 1 – MST3K Name Ripoff Extravaganza!

Ian, manager of the brand new Games Workshop store in Ann Arbor, MI put on a Deathwatch campaign for us.

I decided to join in at least for the first round, using proxies from my own list.  The rules for creating a kill team are from the internet.  Here's mine, in all its copycatted glory:

Kill Team Roll Fizzlebeef

-Bob Johnson, Ultramarines Chaplain: Terminator Armour, Bolter-Melta, Crozius Arcanum, Rosarius, Combat Doctrines, Zealot, Rampage, Hammer of Wrath

-Buff Drinklots, Space Wolf Rune Priest: Plasma Pistol, Force Axe, Rune Armour, Frag Grenades, Krak Grenades, Counter Attack, Acute Senses, Night Vision, Hit-and-run, Stealth

-Gristle McThornbody, Blood Angels Apothecary: Power Sword, Narthecium, Melta Bombs, Frag Grenades, Krak Grenades, Furious Charge, Feel No Pain (5+), Rampage

-Smoke Manmuscle, Salamanders Sternguard Heavy: Heavy Flamer, Master Crafted Bolt Pistol, Frag Grenades, Krak Grenades, Special Issue Ammunition, 4+ Feel No Pain vs. Flamer Wounds, Flamer Weapons gain Shred, Tank Hunter

-Reef Blastbody, Dark Angel Sternguard Heavy: Lascannon, Bolt Pistol, Frag Grenades, Krak Grenades, Special Issue Ammunition, Stubborn, Overwatch at BS2, Night Vision, Stealth

-------------------------------------------------------

Together with other Deathwatch Kill Teams, they blast heretics and aliens at the behest of an insane inquisitor!

Below, our first battle, in which a planetary governor and a Tau commander's meeting is disrupted and the leaders captured and brought to the Inquisitor for torture!

DSCF1366

Next, Daemons are summoned to protect the traitorous governor's plans!  Will the Deathwatch come out on top?  NO.  We were beaten badly.  One character even got killed PERMANENTLY which isn't supposed to happen often.

DSCF1367Next: More Gothic batreps and possibly more Deathwatch!  Stay tuned!

24Aug/150

Blood Bowl Custom End Zones by Lexington

A long time ago I met a wonderful man.  He's not important; what's important is I met Lexington a little less than 15 years ago.  He's been my constant companion through model wargaming, and occasional rival.  Friendval?  (Editors note: think of something more clever later)  Regardless, Lexington just gave me my Xmas present and if you think that it's four months early, you'd be wrong.  Marvel in their awesomeness:

BLOOD BOWL CUSTOM END ZONES!  These end zones are designed for the 2nd edition Astrogranite board.  I designed the basic concepts for the logos for the Konquata Monitors and the Grimfang Scrappaz, but Lexington brought them to life, and formatted them for the correct size of the end zone. (Blood Bowl fans take note: these end zones are two squares deep, unlike the ones on a modern Blood Bowl board)

These custom end zones were then printed in full color on a laser printer and laminated with 10 mil laminate.  They were then cut to size.  This breaks the seal and eventually they will need to be replaced, but it looks better without a margin.  Incidentally, you can find the files here:

Konquata Monitors Custom End Zone by Lexington

Grimfang Scrappaz Custom End Zone by Lexington

Of course, these are useless to anyone but me.  However, if you want to make your own, use these as templates.  The final size of the Astrogranite 2nd edition end zone is 14.5" wide by 1.75" deep.  These files are larger than that in order to give you bleed to cut off.  Print them, laminate them, and trim carefully to size.  Make your own!

Next: Grimfang Scrappaz support staff!

20Aug/150

Blood Bowl Coach – Warboss Grimfang da Lotz

Warboss Grimfang da Lotz slouched in his scrap iron throne, in the bowels of Mount Grimfang's deepest cavern.  Bio-luminescent fungus barely gave off enough light to outline the silhouette of Nugget, Grimfang's lucky snotling.  None of the other ladz were around, so Grimfang didn't feel the need to hold in his disappointment.

"Nugget, wot we gonna do today?" he sighed.  Nugget, hearing his name, perked up.

"Dat's right, we's gonna fight Stunties.  Jus' like yeserday an' da day before an' da day before dat."  Grimfang sighed.  "Ceptin' da Stunties barely ever fight anymore.  We ain't seen a proppa battle fer a long time."

Nugget pounced on an errant squig, ignoring Grimfang.

"Ever since dat Stunty tol' us dat dere's no more war cuz of dat new fing, wot wuz it again, Nugget?"

"Ang ang ang ang ang." Nugget replied as he chewed the squig.

"Yer, Blood Bowl, dat's wot it was.  Somefing about runnin' up an' down a field, muckin' about.  Don't sound like a proppa WAAAAGH, do it?"

Nugget toddled over and offered Grimfang the remains of the squig.  Grimfang rubbed Nugget's head because it was lucky, everyone knew that.

"On da uvver 'and, it sounds like the only way to get a proppa scrap anymore." Grimfangs voice rose, with renewed optimism.  "Yer, plus since everybody's playin', ya get to fight lots of fings, not just Stunties.  You's right, Nugget!  Dat sounds like da best idea!"

Nugget collapsed under the noogie barrage he was receiving.

"GURSHAK!" Grimfang bellowed.  "GET YER WURFLESS 'IDE IN 'ERE!"  Moments later, Gurshak Ripgrot, one of Grimfang's biggest Nobs arrived.

"Yer... wot is it, boss?" Gurshak stammered, making sure not to make direct eye contact.

"Get all da ladz workin!  Ain't no time fer a nap!  Get all da loot, an' all da stuff wot da Stunties lef' fer minin' silver."

Gurshak smiled. "We gettin' ready fer a fight?"

"BETTER!" Grimfang yelled.  "WE GETTIN' READY FER A SCRAP!"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Warboss Grimfang da Lotz is the latest Warboss in a long line of Orcs to hold the title.  The original Warboss Grimfang conquered the Mount Silverspire silver mine from Dwarfs, long ago.  The Orcs renamed the mountain after Warboss Grimfang.  However, constant fighting with Dwarfs (and among themselves) led to a high turnover rate on Warbosses.  Each new Warboss renames themselves Grimfang, so that they are seen as the rightful ruler of Mount Grimfang.  Orks can only count to five, so each Warboss after the fifth is Grimfang da Lotz.

However, with the introduction of Blood Bowl, there's just no fighting anymore.  At least, not enough to satisfy the current Grimfang da Lotz.  So, he has led his ladz out of the mountains, and onto the Blood Bowl pitch.  Calling themselves the Grimfang Scrappaz, they are ready to smash any team in their way!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Warboss Grimfang da Lotz is a Games Day exclusive Warboss, in pewter.  I added a putty baseball cap, just like my other coach, Lord Kroak.  Grimfang's colors are blue and silver, like the Scrappaz.  All jewelry is painted Mithril Silver to represent the wealth of the Grimfang silver mine.

Next: Cheerleaders and Assistant Coaches!

2Mar/150

Read this right now.

Normally I don't make fourstrands my personal facebook page, but this thread came up, and I really liked it. Give it a read:

http://www.lounge.belloflostsouls.net/showthread.php?53617-Why-Don-t-They-Put-Their-Helmets-Onhttp://www.lounge.belloflostsouls.net/showthread.php?53617-Why-Don-t-They-Put-Their-Helmets-On

A great piece on the culture of the Imperium.

 

 

 

 

 

Filed under: Storytelling No Comments
28Feb/151

A piece of history: Battlefleet Gothic promo board decoration

Behold.

I've got some battle reports for the past few days to write up, expect them later tonight.  However, this bore no further waiting.  Pictured above is Dan, one of the owners of the fine establishment AFK Games in Holt, MI.  In his hands is a piece of gaming history.  Back in the 90's when Battlefleet Gothic was new, GW gave out plexiglass table decorations that had been airbrushed with artistic starscapes, as a promo for Rogue Traders to get people into Gothic.  I had no idea these existed until yesterday when Dan showed me the one he had hidden in his store room.  This is part of a game I dearly love.

Perhaps one will go on ebay one day... probably not though...

Enough self pity.  To writing!  Expect not one but TWO Battlefleet Gothic reports, one from fabled Highland and one from our hometown folks at AFK!  Stay tuned!  To the website.  You can't really tune a website.

31Dec/140

The Sharpest Weapon: a short story followed by a battle report.

A low growl emitted from the Chaos Lord's axe.  The Daemon within had not tasted blood in quite some time.  He felt a pull on his emotions, but brushed the sensation aside.

Soon, my pet the Chaos Lord thought.  Hearing this, the axe increased the sensations of hunger.  The Lord once again crushed the sensation, but the axe continued to growl.  The growling increased as a Herald of Tzeentch approached.  The axe shifted and twisted in his hand.  He tightened his grip.

"You seek the artifact, mortal?" It spoke.  It's voice was both melodic and grating.  Worse, it could not maintain eye contact.  The eyes kept growing, moving, and disappearing.  One even went down the creature's gullet.

"I seek many things, servant of the Shaper of Ways.  This artifact is but one."

The Herald emitted a sound that may have been laughter.  "The artifact is sought by many.  Slaves to He Whose Light Brings Pain come.  Few in number but with a resolve to match your own."  The Herald's mouth twisted into a spiral grin.  "Astartes."

"Children."  The Lord answered.  "I have fought the Long War for ten millennia.  What have these lapdogs to the False Emperor ever accomplished?  All they have built will be dust.  I will stoop to honoring them by adding their skulls to the Skull Throne.  Then I shall take the artifact."

"Taking for you, yes, but secrets the artifact holds.  Dark secrets that bind this world."  The Demon's eyes became big, like a child full of hope.  "Perhaps you would share them?  I can be of much use."

"Enough prattle." The Lord swung his axe, pointing the head at the Daemon.  "Serve me and I will consider your request.  Cross me and my pet will feast on your essence for a thousand years."

The Herald grew a beard made of green fire.  It stroked the beard with a gnarled, clawed hand.  Thoughtfully.  Twice.

"Acceptable."  It gurgled.

"Good.  Show me where these Astartes are."

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Advance patrol to His Hammer II."

"This is Captain Leonidas.  Go ahead."

"We have found the Archeotech.  The signal has led us to a ruined manufactorum.  However, there are Traitors here from the XII Legion.  They outnumber us two to one and are aided by foul demons."

"World Eaters?  Engage them at once.  The Emperor will be your shield, and I will personally come to your aid."

"Sir?"

"The World Eaters have taken many good friends from me.  I intend to pay them pack in kind.  One last order, Sergeant."

"Yes, my lord?"

"Make them mad."

"...am I to understand that you want us to anger them, my lord?"

"You heard me.  Taunt them.  Make them unable to see the visors over their own eyes.  This is not a request."

"...I think I have just the thing, sir.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Smoke plumes from loyalist Rhinos approached.  Now was the time.  The Chaos Lord began to broadcast, as he had done so many times before, the last thing the loyalists would hear.

"Servants of the False Emperor!  Rejoice this day, for you shall find the greatest glory you have ever known.  Your blood will be spilled in glorious battle and your skulls will be placed upon the throne of Khorne.  For eternity, your skulls will join with the honored slain.  Come!  Spill blood with us!  Exult in the worship of Khorne!"

The Chaos Lord had given this speech to hundreds of thousands of opponents, adversaries, and victims.  He had been met with defiance, zeal, terror, and occasionally, delight.

He had never heard such derisive laughter.

Man and daemon screamed as one, creating an unearthly howl that would deafen a god.  The axe in his hand came alive with rage, and shook violently in his hand.

"CHARGE THEM!" He bellowed.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bozeman - Azure Flames Space Marines (Salamanders)

-Captain Leonidas of the 1st Company (counts as Vulkan He'Stan)

-Command Squad, Company Standard, Apothecary, Company Champion, Power Axe, Flamer, Meltagun

--Drop Pod

-Tactical Squad x10, Veteran Sergeant, Power Fist, Combi-Flamer, Flamer, Multi-Melta

--Rhino, Extra Armor

-Tactical Squad x10, Veteran Sergeant, Power Fist, Combi-Melta, Flamer, Multi-Melta

--Rhino, Extra Armor

-Ironclad Dreadnought, Ironclad Launchers, Chainfist

--Drop Pod

-Land Speeder x3, 3x Multi-Melta

-Stormtalon Gunship, Typhoon Missile Launcher

-Bike Squadron x3, 2x Meltagun

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kyle - World Eaters with Chaos Daemon Allies

-Chaos Lord, Axe of Blind Fury, Blood Crusher, Mark of Khorne, Chaos Gift

-Bloodcrushers x3

-Land Raider, Combi-bolter, Combi-plasma

-Khorne Berzerkers x10, Power Sword, Chaos Gift

-Khorne Berzerkers x5, Chaos Gift

--Rhino, Dirge Caster

-Hellbrute, Multi-melta

-Cultists x20, Mark of Khorne, Chaos Gift

-Dark Apostle, Sigil of Chaos, Mark of Khorne, Chaos Gift

-Pink Horrors x11

-Herald of Tzeentch, Psyker Mastery 3, Disc of Tzeentch.  Psychic Powers: Mental Fortitude, Invisibility, Hallucination, Psychic Shriek

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mission: The Relic

Points: 1500

Board Setup

Forces Set Up

Cultists in the Forest for first turn protection, ten Berzerkers in the Land Raider.

Lord with Bloodcrushers central, 5 Berzerkers in Rhino, Horrors hiding behind terrain.

Bikes on my right (picture left), Tatsquad with combi-flamer in Rhino, Tatsquad with combi-melta in ruins.

Land Speeders on the right, opposite enemy forces.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Turn 1 - Chaos

Lord and Bloodcrushers charge forward, bypassing the main objective.  Land Raider and Rhino move flat out.  Hellbrute moves up right side.  Cultists run after the Land Raider.  Herald advances and casts Invisibility on the Rhino and Mental Fortitude on the Lord and Bloodcrushers.

SKULLS FOR KHORNE!

A wall of hate advances.

Turn 1 - Azure Flames

Land Speeders pop out and explode the Land Raider, killing one Berzerker and five cultists.  Ironclad Dreadnought arrives via Drop Pod.  Melta and bolter fire kill the Bloodcrushers escorting the Chaos Lord.  Bikes move up and cause one penetrating hit on the Hellbrute, stunning it.

Pop goes the Raider!

The Lord gets a new friend!

Turn 2 - Chaos

Cultists and Berzerkers charge and destroy the Land Speeders.  Chaos Lord charges the Ironclad, causing two glancing results, but is killed outright in the process.  Five man Berzerker squad and Rhino take lucky bolter shots and kill the two Bikes with meltaguns. The Tzeench Herald fails to cast Invisibility on the Lord.

Land Speeders are chopped to bits!

The Dreadnought played too rough with his new friend, and so goes looking for new ones.

Turn 2 - Azure Flames

Leonidas and the Command Squad arrive by Drop Pod and bake a few Berzerkers and Cultists.  Ironclad kills a Berzerker with a melta shot, then charges and whiffs all his attacks.  Lone bike glances the Chaos Rhino with a Krak Grenade.  Tactical Squad in the ruins advances on the objective.  Stormtalon arrives from reserves and kills the Herald of Tzeentch. Multi-melta firing from Rhino Hatch explodes the Hellbrute.

Leonidas gets into the thick of it.

The Ironclad treats these new friends with care.  He doesn't kill a single one!

The Herald dead, the Objective is clear.

Turn 3 - Chaos

The Berzerkers and Cultists charge Leonidas and the command squad.  UNBELIEVEABLE overwatch kills 5 of the 9 Berzerkers.  Sub par attacks and amazing armor save and feel no pain rolls save all but one Command Squad member, and kill about a third of the Cultists.  Rhino backs up to menace the objective.  Ironclad kills one Berzerker.

CHAAAAAARGE!  ...wait, uh oh...

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP...

Oops!  One friend down...

Turn 3 - Azure Flames

Combat rages as Leonidas kills several Berzerkers.  Tactial squad in Rhino moves up.  Tactical squad by objective secures the objective, and pops the Chaos Rhino.  Turn not pictured.

Turn 4 - Chaos

The Pink Horrors emerge to try to get the objective.  Ironclad kills another Berzerker.  The fight with Leonidas continues, as more Berzerkers and cultists die.

Horrors, AWAY!

MOAR HUGS!

Turn 4 - Azure Flames

Leonidas and the squad finish the Bererkers and cultists.  Tatsquad and Stormtalon finish the Pink Horrors.  Ironclad finishes the Berzerkers.  Tabled.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Post Game Analysis: I haven't had a victory this one-sided since the old days of Mary Mayo when playing against Lexington's Orks.  Kyle had an ABYSMAL time on the left side of the board.  He should have been able to kill Leonidas and the Command Squad, and then menace the Tactical Squad as they holed up in their Rhino (that was my plan).  Instead, the Command Squad broke the Khornate wave and survived with one casualty.  I also got lucky when Invisibility failed, making the Khorne Lord actually killable by the Ironclad.  The only thing Kyle should have changed is that the Pink Horrors should have been right behind the Lord to go get the Relic.

Stay tuned: there will be painting done soon, as well as (hopefully) batreps from AFK.  Keep an eye out next month, as I'm going back to Highland for BATTLEFLEET GOTHIC!  You heard right!  See you then!

23Aug/140

Gothic Campaign – Finale

Liam Perseus, Chapter Master of the Azure Flames, strode onto the bridge of His Hammer II with a look of disgust on his face.  In a rare display, Admiral Piers looked up from the monitors surrounding his command throne.

"How went the Exterminatus of the Kutner system, my lord?" Piers asked before turning his attention back to orchestrating the machinations of his Battle Barge.

"It was unnecessary.  The Necrons are gone." Perseus spat.

Piers raised one eyebrow.  "You sound disappointed."

"Wouldn't you be?" Perseus shot back. "The filthy xenos don't have the stomach for a fight.  I wanted to cleanse that world of them, but it seems that they have done so for us."

"Their disappearance allows me to proceed with the final phase of this crusade."  Piers began typing almost too fast for Perseus to follow.  "Brother O'Brien, open a channel to all Imperial ships, Emerald encryption."  Piers waited for confirmation before beginning.  " Attention Imperial Navy vessels.  This is Admiral Piers in command of the Azure Flames fleet.  Although you refuse to submit to our authority, we do have a common enemy.  We move to chase the Tau who fled this sector to preserve their homeworld.  You would be welcome in cleansing this xenos scum alongside us.  In the Emperor's name."  Piers ended the transmission.  "Brother, dispatch orders to Flame, Wrath, and Blade squadrons to begin warp translation and pursue the Tau fleet."

"You have no intention of chasing the Tau all the way back to the Damocles Gulf."  Perseus stated in a flat, emotionless cadence.

"Of course not, my lord." Piers replied.

"...and the Imperials know that Emerald level encryption has been broken by the cowardly aliens?" Perseus continued in the same tone.

In the most blase voice possible, Piers answered "They remain unaware.  The Tau will decipher that message within minutes."

"So," Perseus yelled, his voice growing to a shout, "You have just informed the Traitors that we will leave Laurie's Hope undefended, and allowed the aliens to KNOW?  The Tau will double their retreat, forever preventing us from crushing them, and the Imperials WILL THROW EVERYTHING THEY HAVE AT US!"

Piers turned and looked Perseus directly in the eye, and smiled.  "Yes my lord.  They most certainly will."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the final game of the campaign, Nathaniel, the only other surviving opponent played a winner-take all Planetary Assault against the Hive World of Laurie's Hope!  Will the Space Marines be able to defend this prize, or will the Imperials take it away from them?

Planetary Assault - 1500pts

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nathaniel - Imperial Navy

-Emperor Battleship Thor's Gaze, Shark Assault Boats

-Retribution Battleship Nieman Lion

-Mars Battlecruiser Saratoga, third turret, Flagship, Admiral Ld8 with one Re-roll

-Overlord Battlecruiser Centaur, third turret, left shift on batteries

-Cobra Squadron x4 Exemplar Squadron

-Two Transports

-Two Transports

-Heavy Transport Argosy

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bozeman - Azure Flames Space Marines

-Battle Barge His Hammer II, Honour Guard, Terminator Boarding Parties, Flagship: Ranidan Piers, Admiral (Ld10) 3 re-rolls, Crew Skill: Extra re-roll for this ship

-Strike Cruiser Vigilance, Extra Shield, Refit: +1Ld for Reload Ordnance

-Strike Cruiser Duty, Extra Shield, Crew Skill: Pass one Leadership check automatically, Refit: +2 Hull Points, -5cm Speed

-Strike Cruiser Courage, Extra Shield, Crew Skill: Re-roll x2, Refit: +2D6 on All Ahead Full

-Strike Cruiser Sacrifice, Extra Shield, Refit: +1D6 for Critical Repairs

-Strike Cruiser Honor, Extra Shield, Crew Skill: +1Ld for Lock on, Refit: Suffer no movement penalty for Blast Markers

-Minefield (15cm x 15cm)

-Minefield (15cm x 10cm)

-Orbital Mine

-Orbital Defence Platform (batteries)

-Ground Laser Battery x4

-Ground Air Base x2

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Setup:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Turn 1 - Azure Flames

Fleet advances.

Turn 1 - Imperial Navy

Every ship in the fleet except the two Battlecrusiers goes on All Ahead Full.  The Mars uses Come to a New Heading to maneuver to get line of sight for the Nova Cannon and the Overlord fails.  Wild scatter on the Nova Cannon does no damage. Emperor fires 2 Fighters and 6 Bombers, while Mars fires 4 Bombers.

Turn 2 - Azure Flames

Fleet advances.  Bombers launched by the Mars are lost in an asteroid field.

Turn 2 - Imperial Navy

Thor's Gaze goes on All Ahead Full, but other ships fail.  Cobra squadron fires a Strength 8 torpedo wave.

Turn 3 - Azure Flames

The Courage and Sacrifice fire torpedoes, Thunderhawks, and Bombardment cannons which annihilate the Cobra Squadron.  Bombardment Canons from Honor and Vigilance take out the bomber wave, while their torpedoes and Thunderhawks fly directly into the path of the Retribution Battleship.  Duty's Thunderhawks move in front of the Emperor Battleship.

Turn 3 - Imperial Navy

The Retribution braces against the Space Marine ordnance.  Poor torpedo roll does no damage, but Thunderhawk Gunships take out the dorsal lances.  The Emperor's turrets make mincemeat out of the Thunderhawks, but a poor leadership test does 3 damage from asteroids.  Nova Cannon from the Mars glances the Duty, lowering one shield.  5 torpedoes from the Retribution ignore the Duty and move past it.

Turn 4 - Azure Flames

Torpedoes and Thunderhawks cause the Mars to brace, barely saving it from being crippled.  Broadsides pound the Heavy Transport.  His Hammer II boards Thor's Gaze and does 2 damage, starts 2 fires, and damages the starboard weapons.  Broadside fire kills 2 transports, and torpedoes kill another.  A good brace save protects the last transport and the Overlord Battlecruiser from harm.

Turn 4 - Imperial Navy

Mars moves up and fires the Nova Cannon at the asteroids hoping for a lucky scatter.  Fortune is fickle, and the template scatters onto BOTH His Hammer II AND the Neiman Lion, lowering one shield each.  Thor's Gaze runs through the asteroids, taking one damage from an unrepaired Fire.  Torpedoes from the Overlord miss His Hammer II.  In a gutsy move, the Nieman Lion boards the Strike Cruiser Duty, and in a double surprise the action is a TIE!

Turn 5 - Azure Flames

Honor and Vigilance board the Mars, crippling it.  Despite brace saves, the Heavy Transport explodes, the last escort class transport is killed, and the Overlord battlecruiser is crippled.  An Orbital Mine from the Minefield hits Thor's Gaze, causing 3 more Fire effects!  Duty and the Nieman Lion fight another boarding action, and it is another tie!  DOUBLE TIE!

Turn 5 - Imperial Navy

Crippled and on fire, Thor's Gaze disengages.  The crippled Overlord fails to navigate the asteroids and is destroyed.  The Mars, crippled and braced, lowers a shield on the Duty.  Finally, the boarding fight between the Duty and the Nieman Lion is decisive: 7 damage to the Nieman Lion, crippling it.  Critical damage finishes off the Nieman Lion, leaving it a drifting hulk.

Turn 6 - Azure Flames

All nearby ships Lock On and destroy the Mars.  Turn not pictured.  Game over.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WHAT A SLAUGHTER!  Nathaniel had some bad luck, but mostly he let the Space Marines get close.  He would have done better with Dauntless cruisers with lances and a mix of boats with balanced weapons.  Some more Nova Cannons would not have hurt either.

This concludes the Battlefleet Gothic Campaign for the summer!  Stay tuned for more fluff to wrap up the story, including a surprise guest!

18Mar/143

Relics from ancient times

Long, long ago, there was a place where nerds gathered.  It was called Mary Mayo, West Commons Room, and it was there that Studio 40K convened.  All were welcome, even that jackass guy who disengaged his Battlefleet Gothic fleet on turn 2 when he was the defender in a Planetary Assault.  It was a good time, and perhaps its like will come again.

Delving through the detritus of my hard drive I found an ancient relic of that far flung time.  I was the secretary one year, and I wrote the constitution for our little club.  It has survived several hard drive crashes, two transfers to new computers, and the dissolution of our club thanks to *internet rage explosion*

Sorry, that's a bit of a sore spot.  Anyway, here's the constitution if you care.  It's a bit long-winded.

Studio 40K Constitution, circa 2002.

Filed under: Storytelling 3 Comments