Wednesday 18 September 2013

Space Marines Re-Imagined Part 1


Well I am back from my holiday and preparing for another round of interviews at work but have been thinking about the alternative Empire I have been footling around with on my blog and decided it was high time to take a peek at the Emperors finest, the mighty Space Marines!

Now for many folks my age, their first experience of the Space Marine was with MBs Space Crusade:

I fondly remember buying it along with Mission Dreadnaught one summer holiday and loving the artwork from the box and the big pile of figures that came with it. Soon I bought the mighty Rogue Trader book but at the age of 13 found it rather heavy going!

Still the artwork in the book was fantastic and as I went through High School 2nd edition was released and many a game was played but something always nagged me about the Marines. In much of the early artwork they are a lot more interesting than in the stuff that was produced later (you know the stuff with the pin heads and festooned with ribbons!)

Now coming back to the subject, I find myself heretically thinking that the old designs could do with a revamp for a more high tech and sleek design and the very Marine itself needs a bit of revision to live in my revised setting.

The original Space Marine was often from a savage society and taken off to the Space Marines fortress and indoctrinated in the Imperial cult and operated on to alter his skeletal structure, muscles and what not but he retained a sort of techno savagery that appealed. What didn't appeal was the whole warrior monk thing.

In my setting why couldn't they be a more satisfactorily higher tech type of trooper, genetically engineered for the Imperium and fanatically loyal to the Emperor, much like the Sardaukar in Dune? This approach rather appeals to me as it allows me to incorporate all manner of interesting legion specific rules and quirks that the Imperium techs and geneticists have worked into their super soldier programme to produce superior troops for any eventuality.

It also gives me an interesting idea for the Renegade Legions but more on that in a later post!

At the same time, the Marine is a hated and feared oppressor for many while the paragon of the Imperium to others and I kind of want to keep this idea going and have the rebellion especially resentful of their heavy handed approach to quelling opposition to the Emperors will.

One of the settings I really like is that of Kryomek, a teched up version of Aliens but some of the images of the elite SWAT troops from the book itself are far more evocative to me of what I want the Space Marine to be:

I am still unsure which figures I am going to use but must admit the SWAT marines are rather good and look suitably hard to fit the bill as a new sort of Space Marine. Gone is the warrior monk who spends all his free time praying to the Emperor. He is replaced with a genetically engineered professional soldier who is bred for war but at the same time has a more complex outlook on life.

Loyalty to the Emperor and his family is coded into their DNA but there is an equally strong warrior code that ties the Marine legions too. In some cases this can mean they are capable of great and terrible deeds and I like the idea of small bands to occasionally abandon the life of serving the Imperium and striking off on their own, be it as mercenaries, freebooters or even members of the Rebellion!

You will note I have discarded the Chapter concept and gone back to the Legion, the reason for this is that I can't be bothered with the 1000 marines per Chapter and instead like the idea of there being a dozen or so legions, each numbering into the thousands of Marines, each engineered to excel in combat and that somewhere there is a factory churning out more of them to replace losses and experimenting with new Gene codes and combinations.

While this is great fun to write about, there's another possibility, that instead of being the result of a genetic experiment, the Marine could simply be a human, recruited from the best of the Imperial Guard and given better gear and training. This gives them a far more human and understandable outlook, which is very tempting! They become the Imperial version of the special forces and are brought in to deal with the more difficult of situations. It also allows for far more human motivations and will result in Space Marines being a more mixed bunch who can be far more intuitive as they have learned their martial skills the hard way rather than it being programmed into them!

Needless to say the options are endless and I suspect its going to be some time before I settle on any particular approach but I have my suspicions it will probably involve some sort of combination of the two with the bulk of the Marines being purely human but veterans and an elite cadre, loyal only to the Emperor being fielded in smaller numbers but with skills that far surpass any mere mortal!

Hopefully my jabberings will inspire folks to look at their settings and forces again and see if they can't mix things up a bit or look at unpopular forces in a new light but for the most part, its just fun to write and make up my own sort of hodge podge setting that will appeal to me and allow me to employ the Budgethammer pledge and use whatever I like!

All the best!

Thursday 12 September 2013

Re-Imagining The Imperium


Following on from my post yesterday about a revised Eldar, I thought I would spend some time ruminating on the Imperium, the galaxy spanning empire of man.

In the earlier versions of the background as featured in Rogue Trader, the Imperium is a dystopian nightmare run by a faceless administration nominally under the control of the Emperor, an ancient husk that that has been kept alive in a throne like apparatus somewhere on Terra.

As the background was developed, it turns out that he's been kicking around for thousands of years and had created a number of super humans called the primarchs and surprisingly they didn't see eye to eye and with the aid of a lot of gribbly chaotic space monstrosities they soon turned the vastness of the Imperium into a gigantic battlefield.

To cut a long story short, its all a bit grim with every new edition of the rules, it got darker until it became GRIMDARK! With the weird combination of fascism and communism, coupled with a strangely medieval overtone, the dark humour of Rogue Trader vanished and got replaced with a grindingly gloomy universe where humanity is doomed no matter what, be it from the incursions of Chaos or the ravenous Tyranid hive fleet or some other equally grim fate.

Now lets try re-imagining this all a bit! What if the Emperor wasn't some crusty husk but the latest in a long line of nobles who oversees a more vigorous Imperium which is still authoritarian in style but relies on an ever shifting alliance of noble families and megacorporate interests.

Amongst this backdrop of backstabbing and skulduggery, one can imagine all manner of colonial adventurism and exploitation of whole planetary populations which in turn would bring into play some sort of rebellion against the repressive regime.

The Imperium has a huge standing army, the Imperial Guard, a massive organisation featuring regiments raised from all over the Imperium, featuring all manner of human and "civilised" alien species which have been integrated into the Imperium over the years.

This is a concept I've never understood about the Games Workshop setting as throughout history, all the great empires of Earth have incorporated native levies and client kingdoms but the GW Imperium just wipes them all out in a for of xenophobia...

Along side this massive army, there's the legendary Space Marine legions, the Emperors super human enforcers. Armed with the best weapons and equipment they are a mixture of terror troops and humanities best hope.

I do like the idea of them being recruited from savage worlds and cultures to ensure they haven't lost their edge with the trappings of civilisation but why is it so many of the earlier imagery the marines all have strikingly similar features. I'm sure there's some guff about their gene seed giving them all the appearance of the original primarchs but rather like the idea of them being clones!

Now the GW setting involves a great distrust of technology but what if there was an acceptance of tech allowing for all manner of droids, high tech weaponry and similar goodness instead of the space dark age.

There's the Adeptus Mechanicus of Mars which are the machine cult but their primitive use of technology could do with some revision. How can they strive for the perfection of the machine when they don't even know how half their tech works? Imagine them being more like the Syntha of Void 1.1 or Cybertronic of Warzone with the use of AI and cybernetics being perfected to a high degree and giving it a more sleek and clean look than the loads of rivets, pipes and zombie flesh of current style.

Hopefully this will give me some inspiration for some more exciting forces and characters for the upcoming campaign!

In the meantime, I found these rather awesome conversions of Eldar Howling Banshees online:

I believe they are converted from non GW figures but they look absolutely brilliant!

All the best!

Wednesday 11 September 2013

The Eldar Re-Imagined


With my recent acquisition of some very cheap Eldar models, I've been giving some thought to the Eldar as imagined by Games Workshop and how they can be made a little less gloomy!

Here's an example of one of the first pieces of artwork I can think of for the Eldar. Is from the original Rogue Trader book but presented here in glorious full colour and features some frankly funky looking aliens with pointy helmets shooting at some unknown enemy set against the backdrop of some gigantic alien space station or ship.

It's a really evocative piece and the supporting background for the Eldar at the time had them as alien pirates, prone to raiding human worlds and ships. Even in The Book of the Astronomicon, they are firmly a force of jaunty space pirates with nifty gear and lots of high tech weaponry as can be seen here:

 It is only later with the articles in White Dwarf and into 2nd edition of 40k that they become a doomed race, driven to the verge of extinction by their own folly. At this point I must admit I went off the Eldar as it was all a bit too depressing to read about their constant wailing and gnashing of teeth about all they had lost and blah, blah, blah.

 Ironically the Eldar have a really beautiful visual aesthetic to their design managing to appear graceful yet menacing and their brightly coloured armour somewhat sits at odds with such a frankly miserable background.

Force wise, the Eldar has a really fascinating combination of models and unit types which brings me to my current rant! Can I re-imagine them into a more upbeat version of Rogue Trader?

For example, is it possible that the Eldar have vanished from the galaxy for untold centuries following a great and terrible war fought with the Empire only to return in greater force from the Webway? None of this dying race malarkey, I see them as a vibrant and forceful culture bent on taking back their lost homeworlds and their society should be more exuberant. Imagine them like the Fae courts of myth, an immortal race, who's objectives and motivations are Machiavellian and totally inhuman.

Likewise the aspect warriors could become warrior houses, like the Red Branch of Celtic myth, trained to perform amazing feats in combat and making the most of their technological prowess too.

I must admit I suspect I'm going to go for this approach as I'm drawn to a more upbeat setting and its rather in keeping with my Budgethammer pledge. I am going to fish out my copy of No Limits as its a really good ruleset and allows for all manner of interesting force creation and see if I can't develop some interesting units too and somewhat heretically, I am also eying up some of the Privateer Press Elves for some proxies:

Hopefully this will get me motivated into completing my background setting to base my games around too which is a real plus! I, must admit that I'm finding myself drawn to making it a bit more like Starwars with a somewhat evil empire ruling the galaxy and a rebellion starting up against the tyranny of the Emperor...

Imagine if the Emperor wasn't some crusty husk hard wired into a throne but a living, breathing villain, like the Emperor Palpetine from Star Wars or even better a homicidal maniac like Empress Lionstone from the Deathstalker books!

How much more fun would it be for the Spacemarines to be genetically engineered killing machines indoctrinated to serving the empire and the lowly imperial guard being the rebel scum?

Needless to say this is probably going to be taking me some time to sort out but its keeping me entertained and will hopefully inspire me to strip and paint the Eldar collection I've got ASAP!

All the best!

Tuesday 10 September 2013

More Old School Finds!


Well my holiday is just about over but before heading back to the joys of work, job applications and packing my worldly goods into boxes, I managed to get chance to revisit TN Books and Wargames in Gosport and picked up a few more bits and bobs!

Apologies for the picture quality but I'm using my iPads camera! Amidst the boxes and boxes of miniatures I found an Eldar heavy weapon chappy, three Dark Reaper, a Harlequin Death Jester and even an Ork Runtherd!

I also picked up some assorted old school fantasy figures including an amazon, paladin and even a knightly familiar! Even better the whole lot came to a total of £8!

Again I know I'm breaking my Budgethammer commandment of only spending £15 a month but I doubt I will be down this way in the near future and its so heartening to see a proper independent miniature store that I feel its important to support it when I can!

The lot of them need to be stripped properly so will be getting a Dettol bath and the fantasy stuff may get traded on but we shall see!

In other news I'm slowly sorting out a bit of a campaign setting to give me some locations for my assorted warbands to fight over but its proving to be slow work as I have so much on my plate at the moment but hopefully I will get chance to flesh it out a bit in the next few weeks!

All the best!

Friday 6 September 2013

Elder Attack!


Sadly its not the long out of production Space Crusade extension!

While on a much needed holiday, I nipped into a small wargame store in Gosport and found the following little chaps:

Guardians Galore!

A lovely collection of old school Rogue Trader and 2nd edition Eldar Guardians and a Harlequin, all for the princely sum of £18!

I know it breaks one of my Budgethammer commandments by overspending by £3 but I figured it was such a bargain that I just couldn't let it pass. Yes they are pretty poorly painted and in some cases the undercoat is so thick that it totally obscures the detail but I figure with a week or two in a bath of Dettol, they should be right as rain!

This now gives me the basis of an Eldar warband for my Budgethammer games and will fit in rather nicely with my Imperial Guard garrison and Orkish marauders!

If its of interest to anyone out there, the store also has a decent collection of old school and more modern second hand figures. I spotted in one box a mixture of old 2000ad, an old Citadel Amazon and numerous other bits and bobs and I'd highly recommend a peruse of TN Books and Wargames to anyone in the area.

Interestingly speaking to the chap running the place, he said that that his second hand stock is doing so well, especially the older stuff, that he is running low so once again the lure of Oldhammer has struck!

Hopefully I will be in the new place within the next few weeks and will be able to get a proper update sorted out but in the meantime, all the best!

Monday 2 September 2013

Not Dead Yet!


Just a quick update to say I'm not dead! My hobby time is currently non existent due to the terrors of Real Life! With a mixture of flat hunting, going through a rather convoluted job application and everything that goes along with it, I'm afraid I'm just not going to be able to do much over the coming few weeks!

Worry not though! Once I'm in my new digs, I plan on getting myself a 4 foot square board so I can play some actual games and will be going on a bit of a scenery building spree too, not to mention cracking on with my various warbands!

Till then thanks for the patience!

All the best!