Cleaning with soap

The ten Guardians are still in endless prep after another week work on them during my commute.  A lot of work was done at home with a craft blade between their shoulders where weird lumps of plastic were splayed over both sides.

After a fierce session with soap and toothbrush, it looks like we’re nearly their.  Their right arms could do with a little more knife work, but aside from that I’m going to get glueing.

First draft colours

First draft colour scheme will be primarily dark purple (Naggoroth Night) with striking white helms and sashes.  I wanted to accent with both green on gems and blue, but might refine to just blue.  The white stalks of the backpack might well revert back to just purple or blue.  For the moment I just wanted to get a first draft on record.

Guardians and spiritstones

It’s taken a while, but I think I’m ok with Guardians.  The basic Games Workshop fluff is something I’m really not comfortable with.  The idea that normal Eldar citizens might be drafted into armed service without proper equipment always felt wrong – the opportunity cost of losing such a long life, seemed at odds with the minimal kit.  Moreover the likelihood many had served as Aspect Warriors before, but now came back to the battlefield without the weapons and armour they knew all seemed wrong.  I know these were meant to represent desperate times, and thus desperate measures, but when Guardians are a core choice having them felt like every battle my army ever fought would be “desperate” in terms of the fluff.

That became more of an issue again looking at the 8th Edition Eldar (Xenos 1) Index, as Guardians started to look like good value.  If you were playing on points and impact alone, they’d have a place in a force.  It was the fluff and my assumptions around it that offered an issue.

So, I’ve decided Nelequë has a different take on Guardians, and it’s helping to pin down some key points in the Craftworld’s story.  All Nelequë Eldar will walk the Path of the Warrior as their first path.

I’ve always envisioned a distinctly Naggaroth feel to Nelequë – much more Dark Elf than High Elf in terms of the cold, cruel circumstance and striving to rise above it, to be better.  A Spartan interpretation of Naggorth perhaps, as I don’t want to imply the internal back stabbing that would come with much of Dark Elf society.  Rather, Nelequë has a Spartan outlook, stemming from brutal conflict within its walls that demands every Eldar play their part in the active defense of their home.

Moreover, in order to understand what it means to be part of Nelequë, an Eldar must understand war first hand.  Without that understanding, they cannot meaningfully contribute to the other Paths of the Craftworld.

To add edge to this and demonstrate how embedded in the Nelequë culture it is, each Eldar’s first steps on the Path of the Warrior as they reach maturity are shaped by the Craftworld’s resources.  Resources on Nelequë are scarce.  It was a void-haunted hulk for millenia, then stripped by savage war with the Tyranid occupiers that contested its ownership.  This plays out in two ways.

Firstly, the Craftworld does not expend limited resources on an Eldar until they have proven they can serve militarily.  So as they take their first steps on the Path of the Warrior, it is as what other Craftworld’s would view as a Guardian – basic, function armour and weapons that are broadly expendable compared to the much more valuable Aspect Warrior equipment.  Those that go on to walk the Path of the Warrior again in later life will have earned the right to wear an Aspect, having first proven their martial prowess without such boons.

Secondly, spiritstones are one such resource.  A limited resource everywhere, spiritstones are especially rare on Nelequë – to the point where Eldar do not receive a spiritstone at birth.  Instead their first test upon the Path of the Warrior is a quest where their cohort will journey to the Crone Worlds to each secure their own spiritstone to wear thereafter.  Those that survive and secure their spiritstone, can pass on to other Paths within the Craftworld, a proven and valued part of the population.  Those that fail on this quest, or indeed those that die through accident or illness before attempting it, are consumed by She Who Thirsts.

Nelequë Eldar are not especially appalled by this.  For Nelequë, removed from the Fall and so nearly destroyed by and surrounded by haunting puzzle pieces hinting to the Tyranid threat, it is the forces of the Hive Mind that pose the greatest cultural enemy.  Morover, with a mysterious Infinity Circuit, haunted in part by the ghost of unknown Eldar from generations before Nelequë arrived, there is some trepidation about what the journey into the circuit might mean after death.

That’s the long(ish) version, but the upshot is I’m now including Guardians in my force.  The first draft list now looks as follows;

Autarch, on foot
– Deathspinner, Mandiblasters

Spriritseer, on foot

10x Guardians

5x Fire Dragons, includes Exarch, basic kit

Wave Serpent
– Upgrade twin catapult to cannon, carries Guardians and Autarch

Wave Serpent,
– Upgrade twin catapult to cannon, carries Fire Dragons and Spiritseer

Wraithblades
– Ghostswords

Wraithguard
– Wrathcannon

A simpler force and one I can table quicker.  The two characters – Autarch and Spiritseer – need developing.  This “vanguard” detachment host will likely represent an initial “Seeking” party – a cohort of new “Seekers” (being aspirant Guardians, preparing for their journey to the Crone Worlds to secure their spiritstones), along with transports and mentors.

The Autarch I’ll be modelling from Dire Avenger components, current thinking being this is a male strategist to be named Ulthrash.  The Spiritseer will likely be a female, Susku.  Thinking through Spiritseers on Nelequë, I come to think they are likely powerful figures.  This is a Craftworld that relies upon Wraith units, with an Infinity Circuit of unknown dead that may help mysteries to the Craftworlds origins, with a personality cult around a founder whose soul is bound into the core of the world, thus a spirit itself.  It feels like Spiritseers must be very important for these reasons, for utility and philosophy both.  More to follow as I think these points through.

And still cleaning…

One benefit of the Citadeal mould line removal tool over a craft knife is that you can use it both safely and legally on public transport.  Along with some fine glass paper – sometimes rolled, sometimes folded – it’s allowing me to get more cleaning done on the commute into work.

I’ve really focused on getting 10 Guardians finished, and we’re nearly there.  Then I’ll glue, greenstuff and finish prep.  I’ll base them alongside the Wraithblades, Farseer and AKA Fire Dragons.

What they end up being tabled as is still in the air.  More and more Guardians look point for point better value than DA’s.  I might revise my Craftword fluff – perhaps another interpretation of having fewer Aspect Shrines and less resources would be that Guardians are a Nelequë Aspect Warrior.  I might re-fluff to make things a little more Sparta/Naggaroth – where the first path all must walk is that of the warrior.  This is a weeding out of the weak; perhaps due to the need to keep population tight in the face of a harsh, somewhat broken Craftworld biome, perhaps due to the demand that all must be qualified to fight, perhaps both.

We’ll see, but work on the train is allowing things to progress more rapidly than before.  Look forward to showing the models glued with prep finished soon.

And cleaning…

Cleaning work continues on the Guardians/DA’s whilst camping.  More slow steady progress, though the scale still looks very wrong between the “Exarch” (normal DA) and the DA’s (cheap box of four Guardians).  Might look at some bitz for the small DA belts to sprinkle through the squad and bulk them out a little.  Even considering running them as Guardians, say with Wave Serpent, but I’m not convinced fluff wise and am not sold on the 12″ only range of Guardians.

Cleaning mould lines

Progress is slow and steady, cleaning mould lines from the first wave of models – Guardians that will be Dire Avengers, their Exarch (actually a DA), the Wraithblades and a Farseer.  Working slowly with a scalpel, mould line remover and glass paper we’re maybe half way.

The mould line remover is surprisingly worthwhile.  I was certain it’d be a gimmick, having always used the back of my craft knife, but on big areas I’m finding it leaves a smoother finish first time around.  You just need a knife for the really fiddly areas under arms or similar.  Slowly, slowly.

Loin cloth sculpting

First two of the Fire Dragon/Storm Kraken loin cloths are sculpted.  I much prefer this look, with the harsh angle on the cloth.  There’s just a little more shaping and smoothing to do, for which I think I’ll stick with super fine glasspaper and water.  The next two will have to be created from greenstuff to add to Kabalite Warrior legs that don’t currently have any cloth.  My main focus will be on keeping length and angle the same.  I think the “knot” in the belt will need changing, so I might use one of the Kabalite Warrior spiked extras to disguise the transition, point.  Otherwise, I’m hoping the dark colour and lightning cannon (that would be “shredders”) will cover some of the differences.

dark eldar loin cloth conversion (2)

AKA Fire Dragons

Quick post to show early stage work on the “AKA Fire Dragon” Aspect Warriors.  I’m going to go with a working title of “Storm Kraken” for these, imagining intense lightning like plasma weapons, rather than fire.  Right now I’m guessing they look very much like Kabalite Warriors with Shredders.

Not so surprising, of course, as that’s what they are.  I’m hoping once I have several of them all stood together and consistent in terms of head and weapon, they will start standing out a little more.

The only real conversion being done is in the skin/teeth loin cloths.  In this early edit I have simply shaved away the bone/teeth details with craft knife and glass paper.  More work is needed on that.  Getting them consistent across the five initial models feels important, so I think I’ll take a blade across the lower section to cut it to a diagonal slash, facing aggressively forward.  There’s another similar legs to do the same to, then two legs wit loin cloths I will try to do with greenstuff.  From there I will have a think about the Exarch, driven by the success of the green stuff sculpt.  If that worked, I’ll use the loin cloth with armoured section as the Exarch base.

The Exarch should also get the “Dark Lance” to indicate “Fire Pike” kit.  That looks a little crazy at the moment, simply due to scale.

Otherwise work continues cleaning models.  I think I’ve tagged up a first selection of 5x Wraithblades, 5x Storm Kraken, 10x Dire Avengers (Guardian models with DA Exarch) and Farseer as a first wave to build and undercoat.  Moving slowly, cleaning fastidiously.

Sketch of History

Quickly setting my thoughts down to order them ahead of this weekend’s Lakeland Ultimate Trails 55k which I’ll be running in.  If I don’t do this the current sketch of the history will just keep churning around in my head, so I’m hoping this will serve as a brief foundation from which to refine and evolve the Craftworld’s history.

Let’s first note that the pencil sketch here isn’t claiming to be fine art.  Rather it’s a swift view of this small, ravaged Craftworld – Nelequë, meaning “13” in Elvish (and thus we imply some dialect version of Eldar).  It is equally a number of ill omen for the Eldar, associated with the sinister Shadow Fox character of Eldar myth.

Initial ideas are as follows – this is a Craftworld of a personality cult.  Nelequë Everkiss was an exceptionally gifted Psyker pre-Eldar fall.  Her father Saim-Hann rounded her up unwillingly as the Craftworld departed, racing away ahead of the collapse of the old Eldar civilisation.  Essentially a captive on the ship, she was held in stasis after rebellious attempts to escape and return to a growing cult on her homeworld.  Even post fall, having been awoken from hibernation, she rebelled against the order and controls put in place to protect Eldar from the newly born threat of Slaanesh.  With a rising cult threatening stablity on Saim-Hann she was confronted by the Craftworld’s council of seers.  Calling on her remarkable gifts as a Psyker, she battled one against many, confounding their attempts to restrain her, but in doing so called on such dark energy as to teeter suddenly on the edge of damnation.  Shocked by this nanosecond epiphany, Nelequë abandoned the battle and banished herself in a small craft, with her followers.

Struck by a mysterious vision in that moment of near-death, she had a course set out of the galaxy.  As starvation threatened to take the last of her cult, as they slid out of the grasp of the galaxy, a ping on short range scanners alerted them to a craft ostensibly coming the other way.  A space hulk, ancient and warped, but at its core a dormant, perhaps dead, Craftworld.  Perhaps from another parallel race in another galaxy, perhaps from another time, an earlier cycle of this galaxy, perhaps simply out of time and place due to the vagaries and ravages of warp space.

Boarding the hulk, in an attempt to find food and fellow Eldar on the hulk, Nelequë’s people at first find hope and begin to reactivate the Craftworld’s wraithbone core.  The infinity circuit begins to wake, sparking more mysterious and confusing revelations – perhaps these Eldar all went mad before they died, perhaps they were not Eldar of this galaxy or time or dimension – the echoes of the spirits there are bizarre, distant and ominous.  As the Craftworld wakes, so too does a Tyranid horde, millions strong.  The few thousand Eldar endure a nightmare thousand year war against this ravenous foe.  By this point, Nelequë is framed like Kellhus in R. Scott Bakker’s Prince of Nothing series – a Psyker of transcendent power and a leader of pure, searing intellect.  Pushed back to the heart of the mysterious Craftworld, she bids her people hold this final sacred ground, before stepping forth into the Tyranid horde, a blazing beacon of psychic force.  Summoning forth pure, incandescent power Nelequë sweeps through the legion of enemy, in a one against thousands battle that cleanses the ship.

Yet it comes at a cost, the final eruption of white light that blasts through the hulk, somehow dissolves her utterly, fusing her to the Craftworld’s long dead infinity circuit, sparking it into life.  The Craftworld of Nelequë has no true Khaine Avatar – instead, Nelequë’s spirit has merged within it, and it she who appears in times of war.  (She may one day be fielded in the long run as a 28mm miniature, floating above a huge base, in a floating chorus of lightning and Hive Tyrant corpses, to be pointed and played as a Phantom Titan).

Since then, the Craftworld has struggled back to life, bolstered by outcasts and exiles from other Eldar worlds, it now has a stable population, capable of defending itself and functioning as a sustainably growing society.  Yet, separated from the rest of the galaxy for some thousands of years, without the anchor of continuity or Eldar hierarchy, without a recognisable Avatar, its traditions are its own.  It only hosts a tiny number of Aspect shrines, and those are its own echoes of the better known traditions.  Rather than the base 12 mathematics of other Eldar society, they use base 13.  Moreover, Craftworld Nelequë holds strange beliefs about the nature of the galaxy and mirror-like cycles of creation and destruction.

Other Eldar treat them with great suspicion, not least for their long separation and the eerie reworkings of Eldar culture that came of it.  They are seen as edge walkers, too close to She Who Thirsts.  They are obsessed with patterns in their own perverse branch of mathematics, and fanatically search out dangerous relics thought worthless to other species – especially space hulks.  They ally widely, often with their Dark Eldar kin, sometimes, it is said, with Chaos where agendas align.  They are only tolerated due to their hatred of and skill in confronting the Tyranid threat.  Though not a large enough power in the galaxy to confront a Tyranid horde on the battlefield, they have an uncanny ability to show up to make a surgical strike against a genestealer cult or other nascent threat before it gathers pace, and for this they have earned a few unlikely, but powerful friends despite their otherwise sinister reputation.

 

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