Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Ballads of War 2x01-2x05

There we go again! I'm having some busy days, but I'll try to get back to routine with the comic.

First thing is that I have no cover for Volume 2 :/ I prefer doing covers when the whole thing is done, so I can find a better and accurate composition with the actual content instead of my previous expectations of what I'm about to draw.
But I had an introductory text, just in the same fashion of the one for Vol. 1, some kind of metanarrative to get the reader in context.

So, with no more mumblings, I leave you with that text and the first pages of Vol. 2. There we go!

Treating the Wars of the Hammer as an unitary, single event would be of course a mistake. The wars took place in enormously distant places, and very different characters had their role in them, giving shape to a series of events in which one cannot see an unifying thread in many occasions. It is for sure the presence of Beronis what gives coherence to the overall scheme [...] Though Historicus Allan Baalzenbergis includes the naval battle over Lausor between the Imperial Fleet and the Tau Navy as the first of the encounters that conform the Wars of the Hammer, and he does so with relevant arguments, it would look more prudent (and there is more consensus on it) to consider that the triggering events of all that happened later were unleashed on Itabirion [...].

Itabirion was colonised and terraformed most surely before the coming of the Imperium, as it appears in a chronicle of the Great Crusade as a crossing point of the Divine Emperor, though there is no reference to any relevant event [...]. The Adeptus Mechanicus took real political control over Itabirion in the very early stages, and always kept extense areas of the planet under strict quarantine, claiming tectonic activity and high levels of radiation, which was consistent with that world's geologic structure, though, as it was discovered later on, it was no more than an excuse to keep a certain area free of undesired presence. Undoubtly, the accident that resulted in the explosion of the ziggurat-factory of Sicar, the planetary capital, in 569.m39, also destroyed the archives that recorded the actual reason for the quarantine. The Mechanicus teams sent centuries later, certifying that there was no tectonic activity nor radiation, begun a true new colonisation of the planet all over the unexplored areas [...]. It was the discovery of the place in question what unchained all the events. It is under the light of posterior events how one can understand the confusing convergence of such unalike forces struggling on an uncharted location and which, in the end, conformed the first incident that turned into some totally unexpected results from the beginning...

From 'A Study of the So Called Wars of the Hammer'
Historicus Naevius Maro.
Imperial Library. 982.M41
 


As you can see, the introductory text serves as a link between both Volumes. It provides a plausible explanation to the question of how the hell is it possible for a damn mausoleum to exist on the surface of an Imperial planet since the times of the Great Crusade without nobody knowing.

Regarding the pages themselves, I guess the main focus is on the Biel-Tan Craftworld. It is bulkier than I pretended, less elegant than it should have been, I'm afraid. If you paid attention, it's the same Craftworld we saw in the flashback when the Harlequin told Vix about the race of the Eldar. By that time I didn't know of the Jes Goodwin illustration, or else I would have taken that path:

Anyway, what's done is done. The double splash in pages 2-3 serves the same purpose that the hive city in Vol. 1, a striking image to make you feel small (You know, the universe is a big place and, whatever happens, you will not be missed and all that stuff). Scale is a thing in Warhammer 40,000, I guess. We begin with a flashback of the memories of the High Farseer Ellinderelion. My intention for each volume in the series was to always begin them with an oniric element. The first one was a nightmare, this was a flashback. Next one would have been a divination (using the Imperial Tarot, a long time lore reference but totally underrepresented item; I was even on the process of designing the whole deck). I also had a performance of the Eldar myths by the Harlequin troupe, maybe the story of the Dark Angels told in a flashback as a new member enters the Inner Circle, a Blood Angel succumbing to the Red Thirst... all of them with some touches of my own, in the way you have already seen before.

I digress. The relevant thing about this flashback is the casting of Eldar Seer Stones, something I had always wanted to represent in a comic since I first read that story from the 2nd Ed Rulebook (I guess it may had been published somewhere earlier, but that's the first time I saw it and got me totally hooked). I used some of the same stones that appear there and I made up some others. It all serves the purpose of focusing our attention on the story since the beginning and giving us some perspective from the Eldar side, as they have a main role in all the things to happen. Ellinderelion will be the lead first person narrator in this chapter, just as Brent was in Vol. 1.

Not much else for today, let's just see how this unfolds. I got up to 30 pages of Vol. 2, plus page #31, which is just the pencils. I'll be scanning and preparing them all until I run out of them. I hope you enjoy them!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Not Portobello Road Market

I had the idea of a tiny market for my urban board for quite a long time in my head, but it hasn't been until now that I've been able to turn it into a real thing. My most obvious choice were the stands by Micro Art, from their Wolsung range, which are lovely.

I painted them in the gritty, dirty style of my whole board:

The two smaller stands, in all their rusty glory
I started with the big one. I converted it into a spice market/food vendor stand. I used some greenstuff to represent mounds of spice into the boxes provided, and also sculpted some exotic or alien vegetables and stuff.

Looks clean and trustworthy
I also had an idea to add more variety. Edible variety. Well, as edible as these things can get in Rogue Trader, ahem. Just a little greenstuff turns into...

Space cuttlefish!
With a couple of spare MDF gears from another kit, a few staples and a button I built a cage that would be hanging from the stand:

Yummy yummy
So this is the other side:

Hmm, I still have some room for some hanging pickles
For the two smaller stands, I sacked the bitsbox. I turned one of them into a salvaged military equipment stall:

Blood from previous owners has been cleaned up from all pieces
I did quite the same thing for the other stand, but with salvaged low-tech equipment instead of military gear:

All the equipment the modern adventurer needs
You may remember that, for more forbidden stolen specialised gear, you may want to visit Mama Balaklava's, a fine place for the gentle adventurer who would like to avoid undesired Imperial entanglements. This is more a modest place, but also serves its purpose.

The final touch. I got these jars from Fenris Games. Sweet pieces that fit in the market theme but that can also be used for other settings.

Typical objective markers
So well, all in all, this is the market so far:

Should be bustling, but it's monday morning
When the noon cargo ship arrives we'll have more customers
This is it for now. Of course your adventurers will need a place where they can replenish their existences between jobs. The market also serves as a perfect excuse for an Indiana Jones-like pursuit. Besides, when I get some more food crates or stuff of the like, they will serve as objective markers for an eventual scenario in which raiders have to steal what they can while the Merchants Guild thugs try to avoid it. Sounds like an idea to me, hmmm...
Now I need crates and stuff!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Ballads of War 1x46, 1x47 & 1x48. End of Volume 1

Special delivery, we have come to the end of Volume 1!! :O


So we have Brent on the run and the Eldar on their way to rampage a human settlement so the Imperium has to divert troops and leave this flank unprotected. Machiavellian!

This was meant to be chapter one in a series of eight. So now the pieces are deployed and the game starts! Dun dun dunnnn!!

But this is not all! I also wrote a couple of texts as an Appendix. Just in the same fashion that Watchmen or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which I have openly declared as clear influences) include additional info to the comic. They are not essential to understand the story, they simply give you some hints and insights on the whole thing. Each Appendix on each volume was meant to be focused on one character. This first one is of course all about Brent (which is the most heavy specific character in this Volume too). As the texts were absurdly long, I'll try to brief them a little (this is a visual blog! You'll get bored of encyclopaedic texts!). I'll do my best on the translation, but as always, please feel free to correct me. There we go:

TEXT 1

REPORT.
Ref. 29/4867/B908
From: Corporal Niklas Arasac. Intel Section. 45 Belrive Inf.
To: Commissar Kaider Bajakian
Subject: Beronis

After the events told in my latest report, I can now offer clear results. Following the subject V. Prienne has finally led to the whereabouts of the subject B. Beronis. Apparently, after the Gavarnus affair they seem to have acted teaming up. An irregular team, but leaving enough trails to trace them.
It looks like, for the last two years, they have been operating in the hive city of Besenval, planet Lausor (Mieris system, Mauclar subsector, Eubea sector, Ultima Segmentum). The possibilities for hiding in a hive city are obvious, as well as the chances of making a living in their fugitive status.
Investigation has found several setbacks, as the subject is skilful erasing his trails. Close observation has not been possible, but it looks like he has made his face scar disappear, which suggests specific medical treatment. No information can be retrieved about other body scars. Such an expensive treatment requires noteworthy income, which leads to some connections between subject Beronis and some stormings on noble levels in upper hive levels. News came on a subject whose description matches Beronis, who was acting as a bodyguard for a noble household for some months. His sudden disappearance leads to the conclusion that his cover was blown up and had to look for shelter.
Apart from the devices to avoid digital identification I mentioned in my latest report, I have been able to verify the use of electromarked contact lenses by the subject to avoid eye scans.
The subject has got rid of expensive maintenance weapons or gear, which difficults following him. It is known that he uses a chainsword, probably his Imperial Guard regulation weapon.
As per instructed, I have abstained of reporting the subject V. Prienne to the Inquisition, though an inquisitorial team has recently been deployed in the hive. Unable to obtain the name of the leading Inquisitor.
Subject B. Beronis dwells at Level 42, West Framework, District 975. Non-qualified workers district, medium-high common crime rates. In addition of being reasonably unexpensive, it suits his purpose of staying under the radar. A cargo bay and a passenger transit bay ensure escape routes, so extreme caution is advised when approaching the subject.
Awaiting for new instructions.

Corporal Niklas Arasac.


TEXT 2
'...What led general Arveiron to take that decision, that we will never know. But the facts speak for themselves. After a long night of deliberations, his Staff looked bewildered, to say something. But the Space Marines command agreed too, so there was nothing else to say. After three weeks of skirmishes, we were allies to the Eldar of Saim-Hann now. We had been about six months in Biosnar, leading the offensive against the Orks our own way, and then it all suddenly changed. Those damn lankies had been on us and we were to fight aloingside them. Crazy stuff. But we were just but soldiers, and so is the nature of war.
It took us most of the day moving the front line according to the new joint deployment. That was the first time we saw them properly. Cold, haughty, in their red and white armours. They mostly used jetbikes, which happened to be damn fast. As far as we could learn, they called themselves 'Wild Riders', and before the campaign came to an end, we could see the name was well chosen. They threw themselves recklessly against the Ork lines at high speed, causing mayhem. That was the only moment they allowed themselves to scream like crazy beasts.
Apart from those moments, the Eldar were unnaturally silent. Every time we made a movement, a line redeployment, anything -differences were so obvious. Our riflemen companies marched singing battle cries, hymns, things of the like. Difficult to understand for anyone who has not served. Hundreds of voices trying to overlap the closest company. It was our way, and it still is, of cheering up each other, of evading from reality, of not thinking of the position where we are going to fight imminently. These old soldier things. But they... nothing. Not a sound. Not a single note, a song or anything. Not a groan from someone stumbling. Not that any of them ever stumbled on anything, of course. They walked strangely, effeminately, but the bastards did not ever stumble once on that damn rocky ground. They kept perfect formation at all times. They did not divert, did not slow down... Seriously, they were unnaturaly perfect.
Of course we never got acquainted; they stayed on their side of the camp, we stayed on ours. We didn't dare to get too close, if truth is to be told. Well, we all heve read about the Eldar, we all have gone to school. We know we have to not trust the Xenos. Anyway, they made their war, we made ours. The only coincidence was the common enemy. There was communication between the big fish, but never at our level. We used to see their leader coming to our command post. He gave us all shivers. A Psyker. They called him 'Farseer'. Temperature lowered down as he walked around. We all walked apart from him. Space Marines did get some more contact, and among us the Imperial Guard, so did the Stormtroopers [...]
Stormtroopers. Those people are weird even for us, their own mates. They are always recruited among orphans, people with no families. They are oriented to service even from the Schola Progenium. I remember them having an Officer, a Captain, maybe a Major, who was a total beast. Sullen, stern, he kept them all at bay at all moment. He was good, even for the Stormtroopers, but he was hard to deal with. The same goes for a Commissar who accompanied them. Nobody knew for sure what was he doing with them. Vachakian, Bayakian or something like that was his name. The only decent bloke in that unit was a Sarge, I cannot remember his name. He talked to us sometimes, he even brought some combat ration packs a couple of times. He talked about campaigns here and there, he talked about Benserade, Vestris, Bellegard. Mythical places, or others we had never heard of. We always though he made up some stories, but on the whole he was a decent man. Then they sent the Stormtroopers behind enemy lines, alongside a few Wild Riders. They spent the rest of the campaign together, another six or seven months. They all came back heavily changed, those who came back at all. I never saw that Captain or Major speak again. The Commissar was out of combat, they had to evacuate him. Even the Sarge was taciturn. Some of our boys made some jokes about them being too long with the pointy ears, but they were in no mood for jokes.
But we all  noticed a totally unnatural ability of getting on in the last combats we shared with them. It was like some kind of crazy luck. They went out of a position for an assault and, ten seconds later, a barrel exploded just there. They chose a place for an ambush... the most valuable targets went right for them. During the final assault on the city of Hirtaco they disobeyed the command order of taking a sector; they infiltrated through other way. Well, their designated area blown away because of an ammo dump; but their action was smooth and they were who allowed the gates opening that facilitated the final offensive.
I don't know, our friend the Sarge scarcely talked to us, he just babbled some thing about not being a conscious thing, it was just the way things happened. Some kind of 'gift' from the Eldar Farseer, some stupid thing about prophecies, a star to guide them, whatever. The thing is that after the campaign they all were through Inquisition scrutiny and they all were back to service.
For the rest of the campaign, we barely had contact with the Eldar. A Lieutenant from the 15th Aulide Grenadiers told me that...

Sergeant Lambec Kersan, 4th Ecbatana Riflemen. A Tale of the Biosnar Campaign, by Someone who Was There, Chapter IX.



Well, now this is all :D
If you have been able to read all this, you now have some clues on the general background storyline. Little hints on Brent from here and there. If you join the dots with the whole comic it makes full sense, promise :D

I would love to hear your opinions on the whole story so far. You can consult Vol. 1 HERE.
Thanks for all!

Monday, 3 July 2017

Descent on a budget: end of project

I had neglected this front for a while, just when I was on the verge of finishing it. Time to solve that!
I had just a fistful of minis pending, and just for once, they needed no conversions (yes, I had no excuse to have these on the workbench for this long!)

First of all, fun and easy, the skeletons:

Bad to the bone
I honestly cannot remember in which scenario these are needed, but it's not like I need any excuse to paint some skellies! If you see the pic above and it doesn't ring any bell, don't worry, it's simply that you're too young for this blog.

But again, the minis. The last batch is kind of tricky. There are four tokens in the game that are used for evolving characters. These are the villagers. Through the campaign they can become militiamen, and the tokens can eventually be used as guards or special characters as well.
My pal and I agreed that having different minis for every specific role was too much, given its use in terms of gaming. But he provided me with some tasty choices that would work:

Evidently non-combatant villagers
Adventurous villagers promoted to guards or whatever
So these could serve as the multi-purpose minis we were needing. Given that the two last minis would represent civilians recently turned into militia or things of the like, I thought it could be convenient to use the same colours, though being clearly different clothing styles. It would give a sense of uniformity.

So this has been it! Here you have the whole project:

Cheapest way of replacing card tokens with minis
Ahhh, the nice, warm feeling of closure... Now my pal has a full set to properly play Descent. Of course the next thing ahead is that we need to run a campaign! :D