Brother Olaus Wermius Augustine surveyed the scene before him, eyes bright with both academic fervour and the reflected light of the pallid moon that waxed and leered horribly above the unearthly scene before him. However his nose still hadn’t come to terms with the wall of musk and noisome odour that assaulted it and his ears still rang with the cacophony of squawks, yelps and guttural snarls emanating from the braying crowd. Yet still he endeavoured to focus all his concentration on the task at hand. For he was Cataloguer and Compiler of all the wonders and miracles the New Colossus felt fit to bestow upon the world. It was his calling to codify and crystallise the teachings that could be learned from this munificence in to the one, all embracing orthodoxy that would inevitably bring the word to the world. The endless march that was their mission to bring truth to the unbeliever had been called to a halt for the night and his brother clergy, terminators and the rest of the Crusade were setting up pickets or bedding down for a few hours sleep. However, this brief respite was an excellent opportunity for Olaus to observe the behaviour and mien of these most outlandish followers of their God and he must not waste it.
Yet the young cleric couldn’t help but marvel at how far he had come after escaping the shadow of his former teacher. That old fool’s inhibitions and petty worries had threatened to bury Olaus in all the stultifying blanket of dogma and petty moral precepts that the Royal College of Magic cowered behind. How could that old vulture not see that the interminable hours spent in studying the complex symbolism and endless rituals needed for even the most minor spell were such a waste. The memory of the acres of dusty parchment and ancient forbidden magical texts that were fearfully hidden away because of the knowledge they contained still filled him with a burning anger. No - magic was a living, dynamic thing and true power and knowledge could be had only if one were to commune with those who would share it. If one had the courage and force of will to reach out into the black gulfs of essence and entity, to push the confines of mind and spirit beyond all spheres of force, matter, space and time then one would find themselves in the company of those other Gods! How fitting it was that that pathetic shadow of a man had died as he lived... afraid. His death had been at the hands of one of the foetid and rushing, airy presences that the old Wizard had so greatly feared. To his surprise, Olaus had been its summoner.
|Brother Olaus admiring some dystopian surrealism.|
So a while back I set out my plans for this project and envisioned a low fantasy, human dominated, sinister cult hellbent on manifesting their new God, the New Colossus. I think I may have got a bit carried away!
I always knew I had quite a lot of Beastmen to include in the army but I've racking my brains as to how they would logically fit in with the narrative so far. Why would the down and outs of the Empire gladly (or at least grudgingly) rub shoulders with a slavering horde of Beastmen? And what about the newest additions (and last minute change of plan) the Nemesis style Terminators - sworn to hunt down and exterminate the heretic and non-believer - of the New Colossus at any rate! Although they're not carbon-copies of the alien hating Terminators in Nemesis the Warlock, I still imagine them to be fanatics and purists who wouldn't necessarily view mutant hordes with a kindly eye.
I'd had an idea for a while to mine the weird and wonderful depictions of medieval demons for possible colour schemes - making them akin to devils and demons seemed to fit nicely with the creepy religious and inquisitional cult feeling the army had so far. However, medieval demonology seemed such an interesting topic (and in no way a good way of procrastinating getting started on my painting) that I began reading up on it.
From perusing some pretty eye-catching Demonic bestiaries, I ended up reading up about more normal bestiaries, which nonetheless included some pretty fantastical creatures. Thanks to an interesting article by Sarah Bond, I learnt about how these bestiaries detailed real and mythical plants and animals and were more than just animal encyclopedias. Through allegory and symbolism, especially with the more mythical creatures, they highlighted lessons and morals inherent in the religious teachings and view of the world at the time. There's also all the common sayings like “lion, king of beasts,” “wily as a fox,” “crying crocodile tears,” and “memory like an elephant” that are all based on the characterizations of animals from the medieval bestiary.
What's this got to do with Chaos Beastmen, Warhammer Fantasy and the Cult of the New Colossus I hear you cry! Well, this excerpt from Sarah Bond's article, where she quotes Mittman from his book Maps and Monsters in Medieval England, might shed some light,
"[To Augustine], the seemingly impossible, unnatural elements of monsters — humans with dog-heads, with fish tails, lions with bird wings, immortal creatures, fire-breathing creatures, and all the rest — are possible because God established the laws of nature, and they do not apply to him. Indeed, by breaking them, Augustine believed, God showed his infinite power."
This was my way in - to the devotees of the Cult, the very existence of Beastmen, many of whom share at least some characteristics with the physical manifestation of the New Colossus, prove the existence of their God and his ability to overturn the natural order of things. In medieval times the laws of nature and the idea of the Chain of Being were what underpinned the social order. It set men above plants and animals, Kings above men and of course God and his many ranks of angels above Kings. It doesn't take a huge stretch of the imagination to envisage a similar world view amongst the human civilisations of the Old World and what would be more chaotic for an aspiring deity like the New Colossus than to upend a heirarchy such as this!
The young theologian was snapped out of his reverie by a sudden crescendo in the demoniac wailing coming from the crowd before him. The creatures squabbled and fought amongst themselves in a seething mass of bestial features and strangely human forms. Yes, he thought to himself, bringing his thought back in to a semblance of order - The New Colossus promised a great inversion of all things. Those who were weak would be put in a position of strength, those with nothing would be rewarded with plenty and the downtrodden would in turn stamp their perceived oppressors in to the dust. Yet there was more to these populist and rebel rousing promises than first met the eye. Olaus Wermius Augustine let out a yelp for before his very eyes was the proof - the miraculous proof, from the very hand of the Colossus himself, that the order of nature too would be changed and the very Chain of Being upended!
These fine fellows are Medieval Demons from Antediluvain Miniatures and were a mid-month addition as if I didn't have enough on my plate already!
However, once I'd got this idea of medieval creepiness in my head I knew I had to have them - luckily I managed to restrain myself enough to only buy these three. For now... I have designs on their Baphomet miniature for this project and on a completely unrelated note, I've long coveted the dinosaurs in their Lost World range.
What I really like about them is that they are based on actual medieval paintings of Devils and Demons. A particular favourite of mine is this amiable looking rendition of a goat-headed demon from Durer's engraving, Knight, Death and Devil!
Including the Giant Demon was a must as he reminded me a little (more for his size than looks) of the huge and constantly mutating Chaos Master from the Lone Wolf gamebook, Prisoners of Time - bane of many a young and aspiring Magnakai I'm sure, being one of the toughest battles in the Lone Wolf series!
So having added a bit of devilry to my beastly band, I was rather tempted by the Hellmouth that Antediluvian also sell...
|The Hellmouth was literally that - the jaws of or gateway to Hell.|
... until I remembered a rather similar concept from one of Beksinki's paintings that I had included in my introductory post as part of the inspiration for this project.
After a bit of research (I am no sculptor believe me!) I figured that using an anatomical model of a skull would be a good foundation to wrap Das airdrying clay around to give me the form I wanted. Thanks to a pretty poor ebay seller who sent me half a skull with a hole in it (thanks to inadequate packaging), this turned in to a bit of a race against time!
I'll find a use for this poor chap another time...
I got another cheapish skull and luckily the clay just about dried out in time to paint and base it for this month's entry.
Don't think I've done anything with clay since secondary school so this was a rather fun departure from all the recent brushwork. A lick of paint, some Mordant Earth and pigments for the base and voila!
God knows what I'll use it for other than a weird bit of terrain but it was fun and I was quite glad to work a bit of Beksinski in to the project!
Anyway, back to the Beastmen and another word of thanks again to Steve Casey! I mentioned a box full of old and unloved lead he sold me for a pittance some years ago - a few of the old Ral Partha Chaos warriors from my last post were found within its depths. Well a lot of the following miniatures were also in that box, daubed with old muddy paint jobs and looking extremely unpromising. I'm very glad I managed to rescue them and give them a new lease of life! I quite like how that kind of mirrors their backstory - unwanted miniatures shunned and banished from the gaming table only to be brought back in to the fold in the arms of the cult!
I'll let Brother Olaus expand on that theme as he'll probably say it better!
The Beastmen, as those blinkered by superstition and ignorance called them, had been almost a myth to Olaus in his past life - as they were to the many who were content to live their petty lives confined to the small and placid islands of ignorance they dutifully created for themselves. Now he had unbridled opportunities to study, to classify and to celebrate their incredible existence. How criminal it was that these magnificent beings were forced to scrape out meagre lives at the edges of society, forever ostracised and feared and for what?
Feared merely for their existence and their honest acceptance of the true expression of themselves, a beautiful synergy of beast and man, greater than the sum of their parts. Oh how they made those hypocrite weaklings who oppressed them pale in comparison - Cowards who would hide behind weasel words and speak with fork tongues. Those who would have authority sit on their shoulder and chatter like an ape. Those who would listen to their "betters" with asses' ears and follow blindly on like the kid and the calf or else suck from the teat of ill gotten privilege like spoilt lap dogs whilst their boorish masters gorged themselves at the trough. What a poor and bestial thing was a Man when compared with the noble savage he held in such contempt.
The brow of Olaus Wermius Augustine dripped with fervent sweat as he furiously scribbled this new litany in his great masterwork, the Compendium rarissimum totius Artis Magicae sistematisatae per celeberrimos Artis hujus Magistros. Painstakingly he catalogued every miraculous new form he could identify from the unruly flock and blessed them each in turn. He thrilled at the fact that what to the uninitiated were seemingly impossible and unnatural “monsters” were in fact only possible because of the transformative blessings of the God he worshipped. Their very being was miraculous and incontrovertible proof of the existence and power of the New Colossus and to deny this truth could mean only death - for thou shalt not suffer the unbeliever to live!
Overcome by both the howls of his uncanny congregation and the ecstasy of his epiphany, Brother Olaus raised his voice in unison and in prayer,
“But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee: and the birds of the air, and they shall tell thee. Speak to the earth, and it shall answer thee: and the fishes of the sea shall tell. Who is ignorant that the hand of the Lord hath made all these things?"
I'll attempt to record where all these minis are all from but do correct me in the comments if I've misidentified anything. Suffice to say, this lot were great fun to paint and any plans I had to batch paint them quickly fell down as they were all so full of individual character. The wet palette certainly came in to its own as there was a lot of wet blending!
Grenadier Wererats - these were from the box of despair and disrepair and I have to admit I was very dubious about including them. They have a very different character to the Jes Goodwin Skaven that I'm more wedded to in terms of style. The Wererats, to me, have more of a Redwall vibe to them and whilst you wouldn't necessarily call them cute, they're a lot more rounded and animal like than the Skaven.
However, as I set to painting them, little details began to pop out - like the little rat sheltering between the spearman's (spear-rat's?) legs on the left of this group. I'm glad to say I now absolutely love these little guys and I'm still amazed at how well they painted up - I had worried that I'd have to work a lot harder to make them look good!
They also sport a rather fetching array of headwear - from a Wee Willy Winky style night cap to a classic bobble hat! The chap in the middle of the above pic seems a bit more hip with what looks like a flat cap worn backwards - in honour of the coolest rat to star on 1980's Saturday morning TV, I had to paint him up like Roland Rat!
Whilst on a nostalgic bent, I searched for a suitable childhood characters who wore bobble hats to copy and came up with this old forgotten series - the Flumps!
Children's telly from my youth seemed to be a good source of colour schemes and since I was painting Beastmen, I couldn't really miss this old chap out - my favourite of Skeletor's evil but completely incompetent henchmen, Beastman himself!
The Grenadier Orcish Giant's face seemed to fit, as did his furry underpants! The unorthodox basing on some of the bigger miniatures was so they'd rank up with the 25mm bases everything else was on.
Here he is buddying up with a Hook Terror sculpted by the talented Andy "Atom" Taylor - time you ran another kickstarter mate!
Another 80's favourite of mine assisted me in my colour choices - Dungeons and Dragons.
I think the Hook Horrors only appeared in one episode, The City at the Edge of Midnight, but it was a good one!
Andy also sculpted up a bunch of Werewolves who I plan to use as Ulfwerenar for my small Norse contingent - when they're not running with this pack that is. Also included is a C18 Night Horrors Wolfman and a Ral Partha Werewolf from the 98-003 Monsters set.
Also from that Ral Partha set, I have the troll - the green hairy chap with the club. There's also a variant of him carrying the War Altar but more on that later. Joining him in this pic is Chirrik, a heavily mutated rat thing from the Circle of Chaos kickstarter, a C18 Night Horrors Medusa and on the far right... I can not for the life of me remember the manufacturer for this mini. He's great though!
Originally I think this mini might possibly have been a shambling mound but no idea who the manufacturer was. It came to me painted green, flocked and with big googly eyes painted on, looking more like Morph than anything else - although this sculpt of Morph was more detailed!
I'd become vaguely aware of something called Turnip28 a while back - Goblin Lee explains what it's all about better on his blog. His excellent Undead Napoleonics got my creative juices flowing, as did the wonderfully creepy work of the Village of Yarlford blog on Facebook! In particular the use of crackle medium to suggest cracked skin and branches growing out of the creature's flesh. The Fantasy Skirmish game he's working on called Verrotwood is looking very interesting!
|One of the twisted creatures lurking in the woods round the Village of Yarlford|
So I set about slathering my poor unfortunate in Mordant Earth, slapped on some tufts, grafted on some heather twigs gathered from the slopes of Blencathra, gave him a bird skull and the feathers from a Kroot skull out of the citadel plastic skulls set and greenstuffed a nice wattle to create my nightmare turkey creature!
You may have noticed the sigils on the shields of various Beastmen and on this Ogre's drum - they're all based around the Horned God to fit in with the Beastmens' perception of the New Colossus. I'd be very surprised if I haven't conjured up some spirit or other worldly presence with all the runes and sigils I've emblazoned on shields and banners so far in this project! On the back of the Ogre's drum I thought I'd change it up a little and copy the stone age cave painting of a horned deity or figure found amongst the rock art paintings in the San Rafael Swell in Utah.
I had a lot of fun with the banners for these guys. First up is a great old Orc from Gremlin Miniatures. His sculpted banner was just the right shape for suggesting horns and antlers - a trait a lot of these Beastmen share with the physical manifestation of the New Colossus. I rather liked the totem the Ral Partha Orc is carrying but as I couldn't fit any lettering on the sculpted banner, he got a tomato puree tube flag added on so I could emblazon their motto on to it.
I'd collected quite a few images for ideas for banner designs and was having a hard time choosing one for the other unit. I've always had a soft spot for Blake's paintings and his depiction of Nebuchadnezzar seemed to be a good fit thematically for their contempt of non-believing "pure" humans. The legend goes that the ruler ended up losing his mind thanks to his boundless hubris and he ended up reduced to animalistic madness!
I decided to couple that with a bit of one of Hamlet's monologues (not at all influenced by my opinion of the state of things these days!) and it all seemed to come together nicely.
Incidentally, this is the best rendition of that speech in my opinion!
I'll leave you with one last narrative excerpt. As with previous entries, there was a lot of metal listened to while painting this lot and one song in particular seemed quite pertinent to the subject matter - Under the Boughs by The Sword. I just so happened to have a strange little miniature of a lady and her two handmaidens - she seemed perfect for the White Maiden in the song. Some of the lyrics became the Beastmens' chant so it seemed fitting to make a War Altar. In addition to the full set I already had, I'd managed to pick up the Ral Partha Troll bearers and another Evil Wizard although he was missing his litter - that was replaced with the chassis from Arkhan the Black's chariot with a few skulls stuck on.
|This is the variant I have planned for the baggage train - there were a couple of different versions produced by Ral Partha. This one is still available from Ral Partha Legacy.|
In the end the whole construction resembled a creepier version of those catholic religious processions where they carry statues through the town. Having been brought up as a catholic as a kid (very much lapsed now!), I was no stranger to elaborate religious ceremonies and creepy statuary of ladies lurking all over the place.
I'm not sure if it comes across great in the photos but I also wanted to reference those creepy black eyed children you hear about in horror stories and I thought a Princess Mononoke style blood smear across their mouths would connect them well with their savage worshippers!
As Olaus watched, enrapt in the pandemonium, he slowly became aware of a form of order beginning to coalesce amongst the swirling chaos of cavorting figures. Where bodies a moment before writhed and contorted, seemingly at random, there seemed to come a uniformity of movement. The undulating mass slowed and began to part to allow the passage of a strange litter borne by four great brutes. How fierce was their aspect and yet how gently they bore their sweet burden and with such tender glances from time to time they bestowed upon their fair charge. Unsure as to whether it was some effigy they carried and worshipped or a living and breathing being, Olaus craned forward from his vantage point to better observe the ritual.
Much as the unruly throng had ordered itself reverently before the object of their adoration so too did the deafening chatter and mowing gradually shift towards a kind of rude harmony, despite the continued clamor of discordant horns and drums. To the unsympathetic ear it would have been nought but brutish gabbling but Olaus, in his new wisdom, knew better…
Watch us come from lands all around
To hear the maiden in white
Sing her songs of sorrow and love
In the hall of the king tonight
She was stolen from under the boughs
Away from the sheltering glens
Imprisoned by wizards to sing for a serpent
In the guise of a man
Olaus raised his not insubstantial eyebrows at the sight of what must be another deity. He would have to check with higher authorities whether this was apostasy or orthodoxy. The chant went on and he held his misgivings in reserve.
We come with teeth and tusks and talons
We come with horns and hooves and claws
A wailing cry is heard deep within the forest
A bestial host heeds the king stag's call
|Pulchritudo Bestia - Beauty of the Beast. Or at least that's what Google translate tells me!|
He needn’t have worried as it soon transpired and Olaus began to wonder if the King Stag was some new manifestation of the Colossus himself. His supposition was confirmed as bottles and flagons were produced amongst the drove, obviously supplied by their human brethren, and just as soon imbibed. The effect on the gathering was immediate. A crude form of call and answer began to evolve, somewhat reminiscent of the responsorial psalms of the Redemptionists, Brother Olaus noted to himself. It seemed that their primitive totem, the White Maiden had been subsumed in to the wider beliefs of the Cult. Hardly regular, Olaus tutted to himself, but after all - their God moved in mysterious ways.
That's a brave god and bears celestial liquor.
I will kneel to him. Great Colossus! King Stag!
I'll swear upon that bottle to be thy true subject;
For the liquor is not earthly. Great Colossus! King Stag!
And I will kiss thy foot: I prithee, be my god. Great Colossus! King Stag!
And praise the White Maiden - mother and comfort to us all
Aye Lord Colossus, King Stag. She will become thy bed I warrant.
And bring thee forth brave brood.
34 Beastmen 568 points
L10 champion, standard bearer, musician, light armour shields, hand weapons
30 Beastmen 516 points
L10 champion, standard bearer, musician, light armour shields, hand weapons
War Altar 275 points
The Maiden in White
4 guards and magic standard
Well it's been quite a month and I am now back to work after being furloughed since Christmas. I certainly wouldn't have managed this output without all the spare time on my hands and I think I've broken the back of this project now! Plenty more to do yet though...