Valak Raum, The Harrowing Blade: Act One, Scene One

Valak Raum’s origins lie in a lost age, far from Yss, in the realm of Ghur. Raum was a child of a nomadic tribe, one of many that resided amongst a vast stretch of mesa far from Ghur’s heartlands. Despite the turbulent nature of the realms at the time, Raums tribe had a relatively peaceful existence; their nomadic nature foiling the predations of the fel forces that wandered the land. Unfortunately, peace rarely lasts in the mortal realms. Under the cloak of darkness, slavers fell on them overwhelming the sentries, hunters and warriors. The survivors were shackled and hauled off to the east, over mountain peaks and across a series of vast plains. Along the way many of Raums tribe were sold in the various townships and holds that littered the region. The city states that occupied the plains had long used slaves to perform all sorts of tasks. Raum was sold to the pit masters of Zao and inducted as a trainee pit fighter. 

To be a pit fighter in Zao meant having the most gruelling and bloody slave profession in the plain, as the citizens of Zao had a rapacious appetite for pit fights. Failure in the pits would end your misery swiftly, with many a slave being granted their “freedom” by a fellow competitor. Victory meant another day in chains, but offered a measure of praise and rewards unknown to most slaves. A string of victories made you a champion, a prized asset. 

Champions were as close to free as any of the pit fighters could hope to achieve. A champion would receive gifts and accolades, be lavished with fine food and slaves to do with as they pleased, some would garner sponsorship from the noble families and be expected to perform tasks for their patrons beyond the confines of the pits. By the time he was declared a man, Raum had won a string of victories and had the sponsorship of one of the preeminent families of Zao. Raum had inured himself to his hardships and his past, throwing himself into perfecting his training as a pit fighter, lavishing in the adulation his victories brought him and the enticing rewards heaped upon him. Raum was loved and hated in equal measure by his fellow pit fighters, an icon for them to aspire to and overcome. Beyond the pits, the slaves also sang his praises and idolised him and his lifestyle, wishing that they could indulge as he did. Despite all of his trappings and accolades Raum desired more, he needed something beyond the trinkets and toys his masters were heaping on him, something to fill the gnawing void in him. He wanted the power his masters had, he wanted them to kneel before him, he wanted to experience true freedom in all its aspects and all the excesses that his masters lavished in. And why shouldn’t he, was he not the champion of champions, master of the bloodied sands, a walking icon and focus of many a citizens’ adulation and desires? A voice crept from the corner of his mind, soothing, loving, offering council, and heaping praise upon his ambition and vision.

Raum’s took what he wanted during the Festival of Blades. At the height of the festivities, a vast battle is held in the grand arena, comprising all the cities pit fighting schools, with the citizens revelling in the carnage as each school tries to emerge as victor over the others. Inevitably each year the death toll is near total, with only a handful of exhausted fighters surviving to retake their place on the schools roster. Raum had survived five festivals since his capture. With his sixth, he led an uprising of his fellow fighters, rousing them to cut down their masters and take their place as the lords of Zao. The fighters breached the confines of the arena and began slaying anything and everything in the stands, the nobility’s elite guards cut down like wheat at harvest time. Raums followers hunted down the nobles in the arena and unleashed all manner of depraved horrors upon them before spilling into the city to hunt the rest. 

As the horror spread, the rest of the city’s slaves rose up and heaped all manner of brutality upon their former masters. Corpses scarred by all sort of torture and malevolence were strung up and spiked across the city, on roof tops and hung from doorways. Citizens both noble and common were forced into chains and whipped through the city to the delight of their new masters, braying in jubilation at their misery and pain. Raum took the palace by himself, slaying the entire ruling family and inviting his fellow slaves to reinterpret his work so their forms could adorn the throne room. Over six moons Raum and his fellow slaves fell deeper and deeper into depravity and excess, chants of ancient and terrible names ringing out into the night accompanied by the screams of the damned. No matter the name being extolled, they all called to the same god, the one that had whispered to Raum and had invaded the other slaves dreams, daring them to indulge in their fantasies. Their pact with Slaanesh was sealed with the sacrifice of six hundred and sixty six souls on the night of the sixth moon, the souls offered coming from their former masters, the citizens that treated them like chattel, and those that defied Raum and his followers.  

Over three decades, the other cities of the plains fell to slave rebellions, with many offering themselves up to various gods in order to remain strong. Anarchy swept the plain and war spread to every corner, with each city vying for domination in the name of their god. Raum and his followers began a bloody dance across the plain, defiling and destroying everything in their path. As they went their numbers grew, people maddened by the horrors finally giving way to their darkest desires. By the fourth decade Raum had finished his cull of the other gods followers on the plain, many were killed and others degraded and mutilated in all manner of ways to appease Slaanesh. His followers called him “The Harrowing Blade”, an ancient title awarded to the foremost pit fighter of Zao. Raum returned to the long derelict ruins of Zao, along with his followers. When Raum entered the throne room he realised that he now dwarfed the throne he perched in after his great victory. Over the vast stretch of years he had been filled with fel energy and warped by boons from Slaanesh. He was no longer mortal.

Raum’s court set about rebuilding Zao, turning it into a city of scintillating excess and exquisite decadence. The city was hewn into a multifaceted edifice dedicated to the Dark Prince. However Slaanesh was unable to gaze upon Raums great work, as the elven gods had ensnared him in a twilight prison beyond his followers’ sight. Raum set out to repay his god, to find his dark liege and free him, so he ordered his coven of warlocks and witches to enact a ritual that would divine a path to the imprisoned god. After many flawed attempts, a path was discovered, one that would put Raum and his followers within reach of the Dark Prince. A great ritual was formed to breach the gods prison, a potent sigil carved through Zao and the surrounding plain with great focal points bearing the tortured forms of slaves culled from across the plains. Upon enacting the ritual, cultists dedicated to the God of Change corrupted the ritual. Zao began to tear itself apart, multi-hued firestorms erupting across the city, Tzeentchian horrors tearing their way into existence from every surface and body they could. Raum and his closest followers defended the heart of the ritual, his sorcerers trying desperately to regain control of the fracturing rite. For a brief moment a threshold appeared, the one promised in the divinations. As Tzeentchian daemons flooded the area, and the sorcerers were torn apart by the uncontrollable magics; Raum and his surviving followers stepped through the collapsing gate, and in doing so stepped out of Ghurs history, and into the unknown…

Garfys Dice Organiser and Get a Grip Long Pro Painting Handle.

Here’s a little review of two products I purchased from GDE Create, as owned and run by Garfy Etherington.

I picked up two of his Initiative Tracker Dice Tidy Organiser for Warcry and a Get a Grip Long Pro Painting Handle Miniature Model Holder just just over a week ago.

First up, the Dice Tidy. It’s practical and unadorned, you can have it in any colour you want, as long as it’s black :D. It’s a good solid 3D print, nice and sturdy while also light weight. There’s nothing to clean, tidy, or glue together, and most importantly for me it doesn’t have a burnt chemical smell that you will find with laser cut mdf/hdf versions on the market, which I find can cause my chest real irritation. Mr S and I managed to keep our dice nice and organised during the game, and we avoided picking up our dice groups to use for combat rolls, something that happened a lot during our first game. Simply put, it did its job and helped keep the game moving smoothly. 

Before I go further reviewing the Long Pro Handle, I have to add a little bit of context. I generally couldn’t get excited about the various grips on the market. Many were in my mind not terribly practical, either from a cost perspective or due to comfort. The big mass produced brand one on the market looked too chunky and like so many others lacked anything to keep it from slipping in my hand. But one of the big issues was that being so dumpy they would be of no use to me while I’m having hand tremors caused by my drugs. I needed something longer, as I found that gripping something fully with my hand negated the tremor, whereas holding a cork or other stubby paint handles made things worse. 

My initial purchase of one of Garfys Get a Grips was a bit of a punt as it was getting good reviews, it was cheap, and it had those dimples which intrigued me. After getting my first one I ended up buying a number of Garfy’s standard Get a Grips over a year ago, and they drastically helped my productivity, my neatness, and comfort levels while painting day to day. The shims used to hold the minis in place are nice and solid, and the grips themselves far more comfortable and secure in my hand than the big branded version on the market. The little dimples at the top to put your fingers in really help when you’re maneuvering them around while painting, without worrying that it’ll slip at a crucial moment. They’ve made painting enjoyable again for me. The dimples helped reduce the tremors, but I still had to avoid painting on particularly bad days. I openly lamented about the desire for a long painting handle along with my reasons as to why. Not long after that Garfy popped up his long handled holder on his page and I immediately decided to get one. But then I didn’t, as the tremors subsided due to my drugs being fine tuned and life generally getting in the way. However they have started coming back, for various reasons, along with general hand fatigue. So what better time to indulge and buy one! 

The Get a Grip Long Pro Painting Handle Miniature Model Holder is, as labelled, a longer version of the standard grip. It needs a bit of construction as it comes disassembled. The main body needs to be fitted together with a peg spring, which comes supplied. I found fitting the spring a little fiddly, but manageable with a set of tweezers and my modelling pliers. If you suffer with significant hand issues I would recommend getting some help fitting the springs. It also comes with a little clip on arch rest, and a number of shims from 25mm all the way up to 50mm (Something that the named brand can’t do with its standard holder). Importantly for me it also comes with 28mm shims, yes that’s right, those new fangled bases we are seeing with the Warcry stuff. Having picked up some Spire Tyrants the 28mm shim has been far nicer to use than the blu tacked cork affair I used with the models in the core set. As a side note, Garfy also sells base shims for other popular systems in case you don’t use Citadel style bases.

The added length has really helped negate all the tremors I’ve started having again, even on those really bad days, and I’ve not worried once about losing my grip due to the dimples and texture of the handle. It may not be as quick to maneuver as the standard ones, but i’ll happily sacrifice that for extra control and steadiness while I’m doing the important stuff. My most recent models, my Spire Tyrants, have all been painted while using the Long Pro Handle. Any concerns I would normally have during one of my bouts of tremors have been completely pushed aside, I can continue with my hobby in comfort. Usually I would have to stop a painting/hobby session, but not now, I can carry on without interruption or fretting about wasting the time I set aside for it. All in all the Get a Grip Long Pro was well worth the purchase and I would certainly recommend picking one up, and the same for anyone wanting a nice simple dice organiser for Warcry, Garfy got both products spot on.

If you want to purchase said items, the links are below..

Dice Organisers for Warcry

Get a Grip Long Pro Painting Handle

~ Thanks for reading my ramblings, and please feel free to leave feedback, general comments etc.

Mark 🙂

The Ghar

An example of Bestia Khrok Ghar, or Ghar in common.

The Khrok sub species known as the Ghar originate from the mangroves and tree lined rivers of the Haanjagala. 

Khrok are patient hunters, waiting for hours underwater for their prey. They favour hooked weapons which they can use to snag fishermen and beasts and then drag them into the water, often in a rolling motion using their mass to create tearing torsion on their prey as they go under, tearing muscle and breaking bone with the force. Many a villager has had to watch the mangled remains of a prize animal or a loved one being dragged from a muddy river by one of these beasts, as it slinks off to eat its prize. 

Khrok live in tight knit groups ranging over a large territory. They are a matriarchal society that venerates the oldest of their kind. The eldest female leads, both domestically and militarily. They also perform a shamanistic role in their society, interpreting the will of the gods and wielding magic granted to them. The average Khrok is a challenge to deal with, a Khrok Matriarch is a terrifying prospect due to their ferocity, cunning, patience and primal magic. The older a Khrok gets, the larger it gets. Thankfully for most the average Khrok is only a little taller than most men. But there are a few in each group that grow to gigantic sizes, easily able to take on Trolls, Ogres and the largest Orruks with ease. 

All Khrok have thick scaly skin covering incredibly dense muscle and iron like bones. They easily shrug off damage that other bestials would consider fatal. They can quite comfortably tear a man’s arm off with little effort, or grab him with their jaws and thrash them around till they stop moving. 

The Ghar as a sub-species have adapted trimmer snouts so they can root out fish and certain types of eels that nest in the mangroves and river banks of the Haanjagala, using them for rituals during gatherings, to create personal ungents to be imbibed, or as offerings. Their narrower snouts are also less noticeable when coming up for air during a hunt, whereas their relatives with broader snouts can be quite apparent in the water.

Thankfully it is very rare for Khrok to gather and go raiding or make all out war. This only happens if a major trespass has been made against them or if the signs have been interpreted as favourable in the extreme, often focused on a singular goal, be it a person, a place, or an item. 

The Ghar’s matriarchs tend to offer up far more balanced interpretations of the gods will compared to the bellicose ones of their relatives living in the dry seasonal wadis and rivers of Ilshana’s western deserts, or the esoteric and unfathomable ones of their kin in Ilshana’s south western jungles. 

My advice to travellers in the Haanjagala and Ilshana; Beware the glistening eyes on the rivers and banks at night. They may searching for something larger than fish to get their teeth into while out for a swim….

~ Filib Stjerne, Scholar of Theriology at the Learning Halls of Esel-Din. Author of “The Superior Hunter’s guide to the Beastly Mind. A cultural and psychological treatise on the Gor-kin”

Nazgob Triumphant!

A bit of an indulgence away from the usual stuff.

My local GW store, in Milton Keynes, had it’s anniversary today. Along with all the usual goodies and special edition models, they held their store competition. And I did pretty well with Nazgob as my entry, nabbing the award for best converted mini. 

Needless to say I’m pretty chuffed. It’s a huge boost to my confidence in my skills, particularly sculpting and converting. So much so that I’m considering a few endeavors that I’m hoping will come to fruition next year, so watch this space!

~ Mark Talmer

Building Yss

I felt it was time to build a new gaming board that could be used for AoS (and occasionally for Historicals). I’ve spent about six or so months looking up youtube tutorials and educating myself on various techniques and materials in preperation for the big build. 

Board wise I contemplated a number of options and their pro’s and cons, before settling on a modular system which I could add scatter terrain to. In the end I went for Sally 4th’s Terra-Former Tiles, a well rounded range of MDF frames with a magnetic locking system. The frames themselves are well designed and do pretty much what they say on the site. The neodynium magnets really lock them together really well and the frames are nice and sturdy. I used superglue to put mine together for speed and efficiency, but woodglue would be perfect if drying times aren’t an issue for you.

The frames require some form of polystyrene filler, either the simple jablite stuff or the lovely pink insulation foam. I went with jablite for affordabilities sake and ease of access. While jablite isn’t my first choice for terrain building it is fine for this, as it will be covered up with filler and pva to strengthen it. To save time I whipped up a template to help with cutting out the inserts. Having to hand measure each one prior to cutting would have been labourious and tedious. With the template it was barely a twenty minute job to cut all of them out and fit them. Make sure you use a nice sharp blade to cut them, I used a snap off knife with the blade extended all the way to cut mine clean through.

Then it was a case of gluing and adding detail. The cliff faces are made from discarded slate shards I found in the fathers hoarded building material pile. I just stacked them up and glued them in place. I used PVA which I regretted, as it didn’t really stick them down all too well, it was the filler that really secured them in place. Next time I’ll use the hot glue gun. 

Then it was on to adding filler. I used plain old polyfiller. I did start putting it on with a spatula, but it started looking unnatural, so I slipped on some gloves and applied it by hand. It’s helped maintain a natural look and allowed me to get the filler into all the nooks and crannies around the cliffs and into the stream bed.

Once dry, I added some citadel trees and textured the board with coarse and light sand, along with aquarium gravel for smaller rocks. The larger rocks were either slate or decorative garden stones. When applying the sand I used a watered down mix of pva with a little flow aid added.

Then I painted it all. A black undercoat on everything, with some zenithal highlights of a medium grey on the trees, cliffs, and rocks, along with some splashes on the dirt. Then I added a chocolate brown emulsion, and once dried I used a large make up powder brush to drybrush the whole board with Buff Titanium from Daler Rowney. It took about thirty minutes to drybrush the whole board. I’ll be buying more make up brushes from mini painting after seeing how effective it was, after a quick wash it was good as new with zero wear. If I had used my usual choice it would have killed the brush and only been good for rubbish jobs after. 

Flocking was fairly easy, I used the same watered down pva mix with flow aid to spritz the sections. Then I went along the edges of each section with the mid green flock so as to prevent strange lines cutting off between sections. Then I gently added light and dark tones before giving the whole thing a hit with mid green flock. I simply sprinkled everything on, as just chucking on the flock creates a lot of waste. 

After this I started detailing….

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Some links for folks.

Materials.

Sally 4th, suppliers of the Terra-Former Tiles.

Arcane Scenery, suppliers of the various flocks, foliage etc. 

B&Q, for the polystyrene, woodglue etc. 

Tutorials.

TheTerrainTutor

Lukes APS