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Monday, 28 November 2016

The Reign of the Lichemaster has commenced!

It's been a while since I last posted but I have not been idle, oh no! On the contrary I have been allocating myself a nice lot of hobby time and am working on getting all my skelly army to a basic tabletop level so that I can make good use of my time off over Christmas adding nice little details.

I've got four units to that point now, so time to do a bit of a round-up and look at how some of the miniatures choices turned out. Bear in mind these guys are not finished, but they're not too far away.

First up, the monks and masters of La Maisontaal. Resurrected by Kemler to do his bidding, the inhabitants of this large abbey still wear the robes of their order. The unit distribution above represents kinds what I'm thinking in terms of split between the masters and the monks. WFRP Lichemaster says there are 14 stone sarcophagi of previous masters of La Maisontaal under the abbey, and Dintrans himself joins them after his failed attempt to kill Kemler. In the original Revenge of the Lichemaster scenario it is Bagrian who assumes control of the defences of the abbey and is himself slain. This unit therefore consists of 16 masters including Bagrian. The rest of the robed figures are the monks and novices. I haven't settled yet on just which are which, I keep finding new models I like to add to the masters unit, so some of the previous masters are now lowly initiates! When I eventually settle the masters will have more ornate robes like in Blanche's ROTL painting, the other monks will have a few ornaments but generally more plain robes. The idea is that as they progress on the journey with Taal they add more symbols to their habits to denote their standing. The monks are joined by a small group of retainers, those employed to do odd jobs around the abbey, tend to the animals etc. Many of them now wear the skulls and other bones of creatures they once looked after.

The retainers will be familiar as largely C17 series skeletons. There are some nice models in amongst the monks and masters though, many of which are currently in production and very reasonable value:

These are Alternative Armies Wraiths (most of the units are wraiths, robes and all that!). They're pretty fun, I've not picked out all the armoured bits yet but the robe details are nice. Very soft metal though, their weapons bend really easily and the axe guy is going to need some weighting in his base to keep his balance.

Zealot Miniatures had this skeleton in their Twisting Catacombs Kickstarter, I'm sure he'll be available in their shop soon. He is resin... but we'll forgive him because the details are really nice, the pose is great and the skull is very finely sculpted.

These Wraiths are from Ral Partha Europe, and they're a bit disappointing. After all the other great undead I picked up from RPE these guys are quite primitive, very small and not wonderfully posed. The middle guy isn't actually from these units, he's from the Blue-Blooded Bandits (see below) and is the better of the three with all his scale armour. Still on the small side though.

From my least to my most favourite. These are Black Tree (formerly Harlequin) and are wonderful sculpts. The skulls are well-defined and the robes hang convincingly off the skeletal frames. They are pretty chunky, but that means they match the Citadel skeletons very nicely. I love the poses of the Wraiths especially. Suitably Grim Reapers!

Lastly, three that are very definitely masters. On the left is a RAFM undead bishop from the Death Command blister. In the middle is RPE's Bishop of Doom and on the right a Chronopia Necromancer. The RAFM model is a little smaller than the others, but that makes him seem suitably frail. He's doing a fun Pope wave as well. I'm looking forward to doing glowing eyes, censers etc. on them. You might also spot some of the LOTR Ringwraiths hiding amongst the Wraiths which work pretty nicely. The only figures I don't recognise are these which I got in a bulk lot. If anyone knows what they are let me know:

The next unit are former Men At Arms from the Duc de Quenelles' doomed legion which attempted to halt the Lichemaster's ransacking of La Maisontaal. Tancred's knights are still to come (they may be my main Deadcember project) but I thought I'd try a few things out on this unit of spearmen. Principally I wanted to see whether a few blue rags were enough to give a sense of previous uniform whist still keeping the aesthetic of the army and to try out the effect of painting all the metal with a rust effect paint. The rust effect I am very happy with, although it dries very opaque and the semi-translucency of when it is about half dry would be optimal. I may try a couple of glazes (orange or sepia) to 'wet' it down a bit. It also dries fast, so it's essential to shake the pot and rinse the brush every three or four miniatures. Also pleased with the blue. The more 'fully clothed' Mantic skeletons help with the idea of uniform, whilst the more 'naked' skeletons display the bone technique which is holding the look of the army together. I don't think it would be so effective with all Mantic or no Mantic skeletons, but this balance seems fine to me. There are also shields to come.

The bulk of this unit are Celtos Fir Bolg skeletons, still available from Brigade Models. Their spear unit is very good value and I just added the axe champion as the champion from the set isn't very distinctive from the rank and file. These are good, solid sculpts. Nicely posed and flexible enough to be bent slightly to create the impression of more poses than there are. The bones are well-defined and the bits of armour nicely conceived.

These are more Black Tree miniatures. Just look at their happy, grinning faces. They're obviously rank and file and were a little over a pound each. They scale well with the Celtos and Citadel miniatures.

Then there's Mantic. Now I will admit to not being a fan of Mantic generally. The skeletons do ok to add a splash of colour (not much fabric on the others) and indicate their previous life as soldiers of Bretonnia. Their skulls are nice and granny but they're much smaller than the others and don't have that Jason and the Argonauts look that I want in a skeleton warrior. I've dotted some of the bits from the box about (at least they're cheap and flexible) for variation but I wouldn't want a whole unit of them.

There are also a few skeleton spearmen from Northstar's skeleton horde. I took a gamble on these because they're cheap. You get 10 randomly assorted models, and honestly I was hoping for some more scythes. Never mind, good to bulk out the spears anyhow. They're hit and miss, the sculpting isn't very sharp and the skulls are all a bit deformed, but as rank and file on the tabletop you can't fault the price.

And then there are the Blue-Blooded Bandits, Zwemmer's cronies from the bad old days on the Frugelhorn. I imagine them as disenfranchised nobles booted from the family seat for unsavoury practices. Zwemmer was also a champion of Nurgle (although secretly) so I wanted a heavily and finely armoured look with a nod to decay, hence the small patches of rust and the green tinge to their weapons. Although they died long before the unfortunate Men at Arms in the previous unit their equipment began as significantly higher quality and perhaps their ice-burial has helped preserve the shine of their blades. The red cloaks, plumes and accents help to tie them in with the monk units. See if you can spot the interloper into their ranks...


The majority of this unit are from Ral Partha Europe, collected together from across their various ranges. I'm sure RPE need no introduction so I will just say that their skeletons are excellent.

There are also a couple of Chronopia miniatures in this unit which I mentioned in a previous blog post. They aren't strictly undead miniatures but I had them in my first undead army (long gone now) so I was excited to buy them again for this one. I think my second attempt at painting them is better.

The Lich Lord from Grenadier was my reason for placing an order with them in the first place. Shipping was too expensive for just one miniature, so I had a look round and just about gathered enough I liked to pick up this chap. He's a nice model, shame the rest of the Grenadier range is a bit inconsistent. There are a few nice ones (I think ex-Ral Partha actually) but I'm not a big fan of most of their undead. Did you spot the interloper? Here he is, on the left. He's actually a Goblin Knight, but I thought his armour and concealed face would allow him to blend in just fine.

Ok, that's it for now. Another three units got primed at the weekend so I'll try and get at least another one done this week then it'll be into deadcember!


Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Reign of the Lichemaster: Kemler, Zwemmer and Krell

Stories of the return of Heinrich Kemler from the depths of his madness are as confused and shrouded as the man himself, or what is left of him. Indeed it is unlikely that Kemler ever did (or ever shall) return to sanity, for what sanity is it to call the dead from their graves and pledge allegiance to the fickle powers of Chaos?

The peaks of the Grey Mountains has been a hideout and a refuge for heretics and bandits since the earliest days of the Empire. Those cast from the towns and villages make their way to the desolate, snow-capped heights and eke out a barbarous existence preying on isolated hamlets and vulnerable travellers. Most are simply victims of circumstance and the heavy hand of justice but amongst the hidden valleys lie some darker powers which draw the outcasts into their midst. The Frugelkluft valley below the Frugelhorn is one such place. These days a small hamlet by the name of Frugelhofen clings to the wide end of the valley and there are a few farms dotted around but only the dwarves dare to go far into the Frugelkluft, and then only because of the gold seam to be found at Grimbrin's mine. The seam is dwindling and those dwarves still there continue to tap it for family pride. Back in the time of Sigmar, however, there was no settlement in the valley and the glacier which crowns its upper end reached far further down and filled the valley with a shimmering mirror lake.


It was at this site that Sigmar's forces defeated Krell, one of the nine lords of Nagash. That battle went down in history as the Battle of Glacier Lake and the treacherous ice claimed as many victims as the great chaos champion's undead horde. Nevertheless, Krell was defeated and interred within a great, magical tomb high up in the glacier so that none should ever find it again. Perhaps it was by design that the records of the battle disappeared so that none even remembered the place where the battle had been fought, many suspecting it lay further south towards Tilea in the region of the Vaults.

Time marched on and the Empire grew. The glaciers and lakes began to recede. Settlers pushed their hamlets up into the foothills and bandits and miscreants were drawn up into the mountains. It was almost as if some power was pulling them towards the Frugelkluft.

At one time the most notorious bandit crew working the passes were the Blue-Blooded Bandits, a pack of disinherited aristocrats lead by the tyrannous and warlike former-duke Adolphus Zwemmer. Zwemmer had made a pact with a daemon of Nurgle which, when discovered, lead to him being exiled, sentenced to death and chased across the land by witch hunters. When Zwemmer was finally brought down a few of his most fervent supporters carried his body away into the mountains and buried it in the Frugelkluft valley, not far from the magical tomb of Krell. Zwemmer's daemon patron, robbed of his champion and already a low thing in the eyes of his pantheon, clung to every chance of growing in power. When Heinrich Kemler appeared, wandering in the mountains delirious and insane, the daemon saw how it could secure another mortal servant.

In return for strength, life, the service of Zwemmer with his bandit host and the use of the daemon weapon Heinrich Kemler swore to kill and commit the souls of those slain to the service of the daemon. If it thought it had secured the devotion of the necromancer, however, it was much mistaken. Kemler's wanderings were not as aimless as even the Lichemaster believed them to be. He was being guided by another purpose to the foot of this ancient glacier...

Clarity of mind restored, Kemler remembered what he had been seeking in this desolate region, what his delirium had whispered to him and what secrets he had learnt. Having dispatched Zwemmer and his small army of skeletons to raise the nearest settlements to the ground that he might, in turn, raise their inhabitants, Kemler turned his attentions and footsteps towards the glacier. Zwemmer's band fell upon the dwarves of Gimbrin's mine and Wernicke's farm, adding their former occupants to the legion of the damned.

Kemler, meanwhile, had made his way through the crevasses and ice tunnels of the glacier and arrived at the concealed entrance to the tomb of Krell. The evil power that had drawn so many black-hearted bandits to the region had called to him and shown him the way. With his newly-acquired strength he was able to break the seals and release the former lieutenant of Nagash from his prison. There and then Kemler struck his second dark pact and acquired as an ally the lord of the undead and his foul henchmen. The Lichemaster and his new champions fell upon the vulnerable Bogel's farm and massacred the Kassenbrincks. Then, merging with the Blue-Blooded Bandits, they turned upon the village of Frugelhofen...

At least, that's my attempt at reconciling the twin narratives of Terror of the Lichemaster, the Undead Armies Book and WFRP Lichemaster. And here's my attempt at the protagonists:

Kemler- on foot and on horseback. The models are Bob Olley Essex (the riding figure is actually called a lichemaster) and look suitably mad to my mind! The splendid horse is from Reaper and courtesy of Mr Harry. I'd imagine this is Kemler's much-abused pack animal, sacrificed in the ritual of releasing Krell and then pressed into service once more. I used some silicone putty and resin to replicate Kemler's owl familiar for the back of the horse.

Adolphus Zwemmer- I've been after this Chaz Elliott "Undead Lord" from Ral Partha (formerly Heartbreaker) for some time. In my head he was most likely modelled on this chap from the D&D adventure 'Haunted Tower':

But now I track down the image and actually compare them that doesn't seem likely. Nevertheless, that's where the inspiration for the colour scheme came from, that and the BBBs are described in Lichemaster as wearing green armour. They are warriors of Nurgle after all.  The BBBs themselves will all be wearing armour of a heavy, chaos-kind. This mini is pretty massive, probably more impressive than a minor champion like Zwemmer ought to be, but maybe Nurgle blessed him with a grotesquely rotund girth to match his height?

And Krell- This is a figure I used to have in my original undead army (along with the 4th Ed Kemmler) and in my eyes a preferable sculpt to the original TotL one (which I think was just a re-appropriated skeleton hero). However, when I first read of Krell in the 4th Ed Undead Armies Book I did not have the model and there was no picture of it in the book. I didn't have a GW anywhere near me and my local hobby shop had a very limited supply of blisters which did not include the lord of the undead. I did, however, have WFB3 and so the yellow-armoured champion in John Blanche's diorama:

forever became the image of Krell in my mind. He has, after all, got a large, black axe! So my Krell is painted after this chap. He will be getting a chariot to ride in to elevate him in status above Zwemmer (hence the lack of basing). I'd imagine there's quite a hefty rivalry between these two former champions of Chaos. Krell is the more powerful by a long shot, but Zwemmer's daemon patron holds the secret to Kemler's longevity and whilst it cares no longer for Zwemmer himself it is uneasy about Krell's allegiance to other Chaotic powers.
More to come as I move on to the units!


Fimm McCool's

Fimm McCool's