Forging a Campaign: Heroes

What is a Warhammer 40,000 campaign? If you want a proper definition, a campaign is a linked series of games to achieve a final victory which is more important than victory in the single battles (you know, if you lose some battles it doesn’t mean that you are going to lose the war). If you want to hear my opinion, instead, a campaign is the most exciting and fun way of playing that could ever be devised.

We cannot make further generalizations, however, for beyond this family resemblance (so the philosopher Wittgenstein would have called it) there is an endless ocean of possible declinations. There are at least as many campaign types as there are people running a campaign, and surely even more, for most of us find it impossible to stuff all their ideas and themes in a single campaign. So, my posts on the subject will not try to give a proper, rational and schematic set of rules or suggestions, but rather offer an open toolbox from which to freely choose any element you like to modify and integrate it in your campaign.

Almost every campaign, be it node- or map-based, decision tree-like or narrative, has some degree of underlying story in it. I usually like campaigns where the players have a certain degree of freedom and can shape the events to come with their choices and actions, actually creating a narrative during the games and between them. No war story, however, is complete without a list of heroes, warriors who distinguished themselves for their actions, or from whom great deeds were expected. And no hero is truly an hero if he ends the story without struggling, growing and changing to achieve his objectives. In the last campaign I run, we used some set of rules to represent these basic archetypes. As their combined length would be way too much for a single post, I will split them in three. Today I’ll begin with the basic rules for heroes, while in the following posts of this series I will expand upon them with the rules for gaining experience and for serious injuries.
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A glimpse of future Mechanicum projects

Before showcasing more of the models I collected, assembled and painted in the last twenty years, I think it is better to show something of the projects I am working on. The first one is a fortress I am building for the Tyran Primus Campaign I am planning to run in the future.

I have always been passionate about military fortifications and siege wars. When the Siege expansion for the fifth edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battles came out with its (then) mighty plastic fortress, I always wondered why we couldn’t have something like that for Warhammer 40,000 games. In time, we had some plastic fortifications and buildings, but it is just recently, with the Stronghold Assault book that futuristic siege wars really started to be explored.

The endeavour is huge, and not on the top of my hobby-priorities list (I’d rather have a full army to play some games than a couple of models and a building), so it won’t be completed soon, but the basic outline is yet there.

The fortress' top floors

Here you can see the top floor of the fortress, built with components from three Manufactorum and a Sanctum Imperialis kit. It is not very big in itself, but it will sit on a structure built with two Imperial Bastions, like this:

Fortress dry-fit

As you can see, there is still a lot of work to do, as the Imperial Bastion surfaces are nowhere as detailed as those from the Cities of Death buildings. I will enrich them as much as I can, but this is still in the planning stage.

This Castellax Battle-Automata, instead, is already primed and ready to be painted:

Castellax

I plan to take pictures of each painting step and then post a sort of tutorial here on this blog to show how you can get good yellow surfaces even working on a black undercoat.

There should be two of them, but I lost one of its components the other one before assembling it (it was not in the bag it came in, I think), so I have to wait for a replacement, before start working on it.

Last, but not least, on my desk is sitting this plastic Cairn Wraith, which I will use to convert my fourth Tech-Priest.

Would-be Techpriest

The Idea is not original in itself, as on the web there are many wonderful Tech-Priests based on this model, like the unequalled Legion built by KrautScientist, or this model from greeble, or this Weapon Servitor from Jonathan Hart, but the component fits so well with the Adeptus Mechanicus “robes” theme that it would be an heresy to not to try myself with it.

Introducing Taghmata Tyran

When Horus Heresy Book 3: Extermination was published I, like many people around the world, immediately fell in love with the colour scheme of the Legio Fureans Titans, also known as the “Tiger Eyes”, and decided to collect a Mechanicum force inspired by them. There was, however, something that didn’t seem fit for my needs: during the Horus Heresy they sided with the Warmaster, but I wanted a loyalist army (probably because I have liked the stories about Adeptus Mechanicus since when I was ten, but I never heard about the Dark Mechanicum until a few years ago).

So, as I have always done in this hobby, I decided to take the Legio Fureans just as an inspiration to create something visually similar, but different in every other respect. Thus the Taghmata Tyran was born . If you are familiar with background of the Warhammer 40,000 galaxy, you probably recognized “Tyran” as the name of the planet where the Imperium of Man and the Tyranid race had their first recorded contact. Indeed, I am planning to run a campaign recreating the events of that conflict (even if with an “historically inaccurate” army), and to use this army to represent the defenders of the unlucky research station.

My first three Mechanicum ThallaxA view from above

The colour scheme used by the Forge World painters for the Tiger Eyes Titans (which their customer service was kind enough to provide me) involves, as usual, a lot of airbrushing. While it is clearly great for large flat and trimmed surfaces, I didn’t see it fit for such small models, so I had to devise a different procedure.

Yellow is often seen as one of the most difficult colours to paint, especially on a black undercoat, but I did not have any particular problem. The Averland Sunset base colour proved really covering after just a couple of thinned down layers. Then I just applied a couple of Yriel Yellow layers, letting the Averland Sunset show in the most recessed areas, and washed the model with Seraphim Sepia, easy-peasy. Not as neat as the Forge World models, as you can see below, but nonetheless extremely effective.

Detail from a Forge World Legio Fureans Titan

Detail from a Forge World Legio Fureans Titan, pic taken in Warhammer World

Laertes takes the (noospheric) field

Hello to all my (now few) readers out there in the noosphere. This is my first blog about a passion I have been cultivating for 20 years now: the “grim darkness” of Warhammer 40,000. Here I will not post just my painting and modelling projects, but also missions and homerules I developed in my years of gaming, and ideas for organizing campaigns.

I finally decided to undertake this endeavor driven by the amazing models produced by Forge World for the Horus Heresy era Mechanicum. When they first come out I was extremely excited, for I had waited for something like that since when I first read the Codex Imperialis that came in the starter box of Warhammer 40,000 second edition, twenty years ago. So excited, in fact, that I felt I shouldn’t limit myself to painting and modelling, but should explore new dimensions of the hobby and share them, hoping to inspire someone else and receive in exchange some precious feedback. Overcome by laziness, I procrastinated until now, when the recent rumors about the possibility of an imminent release of a Skitarii Codex relighted the fire of my determination.

Now, let me introduce myself: I am Laertes, Magister Militum of the Burning Ashes Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes, sometimes simply known as Grand Master Laertes.

Arcesio Laertes, Magister Militum

This is the miniature I converted some time ago (2008 I think?) to represent my alter ego on the tabletop. He is the head of Chapter divided by an internal strife between two ancient traditions: the days of a bold past, which were full of glory and honour but almost drove the Chapter to extinction; and the most recent days of the late biosas, when the power is divided among the five Magisters and the Chapter lives hidden from the eyes of both enemies and allies. But this, as they say, is a story for another time…