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The Darkwood Court : An Age Of Sigmar tale; In the bleak midwinter...
Topic Started: 24 Jan 2018, 08:55 PM (296 Views)
Knave Of Scribes
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"People forget. Thatís what they do. Itís easier to forget, to ignore things, to pretend that we were never scared in the first place. But in forgetting, we let those things slip back in, unnoticed and unheeded. And the important point is this - just because we forgot about them doesnít mean that they forgot about us..."
Follies; Everard Hemp of Hammerhal.

"...the Goddess took her eye, long ago, and so much of her leaked out of that hole that she is almost faded out of the worlds now and has to live beyond the thrice-nine lands in the kingdom of the Grey Marches. Sheís a poor thing now, a shadow of what she used to be. No more the Three-in-one, now the hag alone."
Stories of the Realms; traditional.


Her missing eye ached, but then it had ached for years untold now and it especially ached when the cold drew in. And here in the thrice-ten kingdom, it was always bleakest midwinter. She had lost so much through that missing eye, that hole in herself, when the bitch-queen had plucked it from her and cast it away. The pain and the sense of diminishing, of lessening, had become commonplace.

Still, she had survived. That was what she did, survive. Hoarding scraps of power, scraps of herself, watching the Realms move on from the depths of the forest and the snows with her one remaining eye. Watching. Surviving. Waiting.

She turned the skull over and over in her wizened ancient hands, long fingers moving like spiders over and into it, exploring every crevice and aspect of the gleaming bone. She muttered under her breath as she inspected the skull, nonsense words and rhymes flowing into hexes and prophecy and back again. The winds whispered around her and her head tilted, grey hair spilling as she seemed to listen. Nodded as if hearing something to her satisfaction.

She raised the skull to her face, cradling it as she would a lover, brought it closer. A grey and withered tongue crept like a worm from behind teeth the colour of old iron and gently, obscenely, began to probe an eye socket.

Her tongue drew back behind those ragged iron teeth and her sole eye narrowed as she contemplated what she had tasted in the skullís death. She crooned into the empty gaze of her skull, singing under her breath as she reached up with long arms and hung the polished globe of bone from her crooked staff.

Smiling to herself, still singing in a ragged low voice, Mother Aldwynter shuffled off into the snowbound and skeletal black trees around her. Above her, swinging from her crooked staff, the skull began to whisper its secrets.

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"Gorgo, Mormo, moon of a thousand forms..."
Edited by Knave Of Scribes, 24 Jan 2018, 10:24 PM.
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Knave Of Scribes
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I know what you're thinking - "So what exactly is this all going to be about then?"

At least, I hope its that and not just "oh, another boring story-project. Meh." Be gentle with me folks.

In all seriousness, I am working on an actual army. I've kinda done a 180 on Age Of Sigmar over the last few years - when it came out I didn't buy into the look or feel of it at all. The Stormcast looked like swords-n-sorcery Astartes, the background and personalities of the Old World that I loved and had grown up with were all gone, and the new game seemed to be all about fielding the biggest monsters with little thought towards the theme or feel of an army.

But. But.

Over the last couple of years, the expansion of the ranges and the background have shown me a different point of view. It's a new setting, not an update, a new setting with a lot of loving nods to the old game. There's actually a hell of a lot more room and freedom to create our own stories and pocket-realms and so forth, and its constantly evolving. That's pretty damn cool. And GW are going great guns on the models themselves. Ok, so the Sigmarines and Khorne stuff leaves me cold (with the exception of the Vanguard Palladors because hello beautiful) but the Orruks are good, the Fyreslayers decent and the Sylvaneth goddamn lovely. Even the Kharadon Overloads look pretty boss and I never thought I'd say that about dwarves.

So I'm taking the plunge. And by plunge, I mean I spent an obscene amount on this little lot to get the hobby-ball rolling:

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Paints and tools yes, but also importantly - Sylvaneth. Yes, despite what the opener above might have suggested, I am doing a Sylvaneth force. Albeit with a twist. Now, I haven't played anything for a while, so I'm not fussed about the gaming side (although one of my Hobby Resolutions for this year is to play some AOS and Blood Bowl) but I love the Sylvaneth models and aesthetic. With the exception of the Dryads and the Branchwych model, I think every model is great. Course, I'm not going to end up using half of them but hey ho.

I have got a plan of what I'm going to do in total and it is about 2000pts in Matched Play terms, but with a firm emphasis on story over game-winning potential. First up, I've got 10 Dryads, a Treelord, 5 Tree-Revs and 2 converted Branchwyches to get on with, which should keep me going for a month or two at least.

Story and theme-wise, I don't want to give away too much yet, but the general idea of the project is based around a dying exiled Sylvaneth Grove stuck in the borderlands between the Realms of Life and Death. Cold, wintery, and snowbound dead forests populated with ghosts, forgotten spirits and old witches, with a deep hit of Russian and Slavic folklore. Basically, its the nightmare wood you were told never to go into as a child.

Anyway, that's probably enough blather from me. I'll leave you with a few character sketches I'd knocked up while planning and a promise that once I finish the bases on the Dryads and the first Branchwych, I'll get some pics up. So probably over the weekend.

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Also, if you are on the Instagram, please come and say hello - knave_of_scribes is me and there's some early pics of stuff for the Darkwood Court up already.

Comments and anything else you guys want to say are always gratefully received.

Cheers all, Knave
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euansmith
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Excellent. "Follies" is a great title to a background work; is it part of the official fluff or your own invention? The story is wonderfully evocative and concise. Aldwynter is also a really atmospheric name. I'm looking forward to seeing more of the mini and this tale. Oh, and is that a Nightbringer I see getting an Elk Lodge head dress?
Edited by euansmith, 25 Jan 2018, 01:44 PM.
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Knave Of Scribes
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Afternoon everyone. I'm taking refuge from the vicissitudes of life and the frustrations of banks by posting here. It's my happy place.

Euansmith - Thank very much man, glad to hear you like the start so far. I'm trying to keep the fiction parts fairly shot and concise while packing a lot of atmosphere and story in, if that makes sense. Don't want to bore people with text. Follies is indeed my own invention, its a recurring title of a made-up book I'll be pulling quotes from quite a bit. And yes, that is indeed a Nightbringer conversion I have planned for my Drycha-counts-as, the King-In-Horns. Got a ways to go before we get to him though.

So, progress over the weekend was made. Admittedly I dodged a bullet first with the Daughters Of Khaine release news - the Druchii are my first Warhammer Love and I was all set to be magpied away by a shiny new Aelf release. Luckily the Daughters are the one aspect of the Druchii I've not really got much of an interest in, and the models, while nice, don't do a huge amount for me at the moment. Also, call me pernickety, but I don't remember Morathi being all about the Khainite side of life, in fat I remember her being vehemently opposed to it and having constant "Who's hotter" competitions with Hellebron. Be interesting to see if that's addressed at all.

But anyway, back to the Darkwood Court. I've cracked on with the first couple of units from the list, namely the Dryads and the first Branchwych. Now, I'm somewhat torn on the Dryads - some times I really like them, other times I don't. I think if I had more than 10 to do, I'd be finding something else to use. But as it stands, I haven't got bored enough of them yet to want to replace them, and I think my planned almost monochromatic scheme should work nicely on them.

Here's how things stand after some late night basing:

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The ace thing about only using 10 of the 16 Dryads in the SC box is that you get plenty of spare bits to spruce up bases. I've roughly coated the bases with Stirland Mud texture paint as well, not worrying too much about tidiness or coverage as it will in turn mostly be covered with snow effect. But they're looking decent, along with two spell/objective markers and Mother Aldwynter herself who I'm rather pleased with as looking very much like an old crone and not like an old necromancer guy anymore. Picking up some undercoat this week and will get cracking on the painting side soon.

I also started on another character, based on the lovely Wulfrik model. Here he is in a very WIP state, only tacked together to check positioning:

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The hammer is a placeholder and will be swapped out for a sword, and the head might get changed for one with more hair, but I'm pretty happy with how he is looking so far. Lot of trimming, filing and greenstuff work to be done of course, but he's getting there.

I've also been considering what to do for my second Branchwych - I'm not actually a fan of the regular model as it looks far too much like a Dryad to me, and I wanted a male Branchwych to lead my Tree-Revs. My initial thought was to just convert one out of the regular Tree-rev champion but I'm now leaning towards something a bit more impressive and tweaking the lovely Ogroid Thaumurturge into a stag-headed huge Celtic style forest champion. Which, when I say it like that, sounds pretty boss.

Goddamn it, hobby brain.

More to come soon folks, hope you like what you see.
Knave
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euansmith
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The new guy looks short and stout and grumpy... You've made a mini-me!

Short fluff is always the best way to go, I agree. Suggestion and mystery really helps nail the grim dark atmosphere so much better than pages of detailed exposition.
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Knave Of Scribes
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Hello again :)

Euansmith - Ha yes he does look strangely stumpy, but the Wulfrik model is actually fairly tall, and he's got a nice bulk next to the Dryads. I'm going to go back to his old head though I think, it's got loads of character. And short, punchy fiction it is then.

Just a really quick update today - had a little play around last night after finishing off the bases with a second coat of Suitland Mud, and further to my belief that the Branchwych makes a better dryad than she does anything else, I had a little tweak of her and ended up with this:

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Much better champion for the dryad unit and she's now become one of my favourite models so far. That's it for now, I'm off to find a cheap Ogroid Thaumuturge and to order a load of bits. And get some undercoat. Sigh.

Cheers,
Knave
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"The Known Realms have seen and forgotten more heroes, legends, myths and near-gods than we will ever know. The question you should ask is whether these overlooked and lost once-gods have forgotten us..."
Follies; Everard Hemp of Hammerhal.

"...I have seen her there, in the dead forests, plucking lost souls from the mists and snows, binding them and keeping them. She is the mother, the shepherd and keeper, the voice at the crossroads. Weaver, spinner and cutter all..."
Excerpt from personal diaries of Yuri Ilyich Ifemovich, late of Hammerhal.

~

Armin shivered in the biting cold and tried not to stare at the shadows between the skeletal dead trees that surrounded him. He refused to acknowledge the rounded shape that could have been a human skull that grinned at him from the bole of one blackened tree. Behind him, he could hear the duardin Gurni grumbling through his tangled beard at their employer. If the cold bothered the stocky ranger, he gave no sign, the duardinís meaty arms bared to the chill air as he unwrapped his rifle from its waxed leathers

It was deathly quiet, eerily still in the drifting mists and flurries of snow. A dead and empty forest, lacking in any of the riches that the man who had brought them here had promised. The priest, or mage or whatever he was, shook with excitement rather than cold, his fur-trimmed robes fluttering around him like a crows wings as he flitted from dead tree to dead tree, muttering to himself in some incomprehensible tongue. Thin and greying with age, he stank of the sweat and magery that had brought them through the walls of the Known Realms into this bleak borderland.

Armin kicked miserably at the drifts of snow, recoiling as his probing boot unearthed long bones wrapped in twisting dead roots. Except, no, the bones werenít wrapped in the rootsÖ. No, they were part of them, growing into and out of the twisted and gnarled root tendrils. He started to curse and the words died in his throat as he realised he couldnít hear Gurniís bass grumble. He turned in time to see the duardin, limp and doll-like, being dragged into the thickening trees and the darkness between them by things. Things that moved in jerking stop-start motions, things raised into the shape of man but nightmarishly stretched and sharp in silhouette. They moved with the creak and splinter of dead wood. Of breaking bone.

The maybe-priest was raving now, thin arms spread wide in acclaim or welcome as he dropped to his knees in the snow. Armin fumbled with the sword hanging from his hip, fear slowing his limbs. The skeletal treekin flickered and jerked closer, reaching out for him with thorned branches and limbs that became talons and jagged spikes, a thin keening rising from them as curling spirals and pits where eyes should be glowed with a pale blue fire.

As the keening treekin closed in around him and Armin began to feel their sharp talons tearing at him, he glimpsed a hunched figure limping towards the kneeling priest, and as his own screams were choked off in his throat, the priestís ravings grew clearer.

"Yes, yes! No queen but you! My life for yours! My life for yours! All-hag! My life for yours!"

The last thing Armin sees before the darkness and the dead trees take him and his eyes are plucked from his skull is the kiss of the hunched old woman stripping the flesh from her priestís head in waves of pale blue flame.
~

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"A king has his subjects and these are they, the lost and the dead and the stolen along the way."

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"Ragged they are and broken they may be, bound to these husks in service to thee."

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"My puppets, your subjects. Our children."

~

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"All the low creatures of the forests are hers; her eye sees all and she is ever on the wind."

~

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Knave Of Scribes
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Hello out there....

So in between getting very distracted by thoughts of Inq28 and Necromunda and Blood Bowl, as well as a slight urge to paint at least one Primaris Astartes, I got my dryads undercoated the other day and spent a few hours over the weekend working on the scheme tester. And here she is:

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Now, I haven't painted in over 18 months, so I'm pretty happy with the end result. Its got a lovely loose Blanchitsu feel, a bleak and washed out scheme with a dead and spectral look. So pretty much exactly what I wanted. And it was quick to do as well, this tester took about an hour and a half start to finish. Already started rolling on with the rest of the unit.

Also ordered a chunk of bits for use on my Ogroid/branchwych/were-stag conversion - they should be here soon. Once the dryads are done though I need to crack on with some Tree Revs and Mother Aldwynter herself.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the scheme and things so far chaps.

Cheers,
Knave
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nerodine
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Love it. I like the use of a blue in there, rather than the traditional green - adds an otherworldly effect.
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euansmith
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Icy!
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Bad Moon
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nerodine
8 Feb 2018, 07:07 PM
Love it. I like the use of a blue in there, rather than the traditional green - adds an otherworldly effect.
Agreed, nice touch, adds to the wintry feel too. Lovely paintjob overall as well and a cool concept!
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Afternoon folks, and thanks for your comments and interest so far, really helps keep me motivated and feeling part of the community.

Nerodine - Thanks man, much appreciated. I did want to move away from the normal green-grey style you see with Sylvaneth and a more blue tinted spectral colour worked better with the background I had in mind. Hopefully it'll work for the Tree and Spite Revs too.

Euansmith - It's all about that snow.

Bad Moon
- Glad to hear you are digging everything so far man, there's plenty more to come and deeper exploration of the idea behind the Court, the Grey Marches and Mother Aldwynter herself.

In hobby progress news, the first 5 dryads are fully painted - only took about 3 hours or so start to finish, including the obligatory "Oh god what have I done these look terrible" pre-wash and glaze phase. I'll sort pics once the rest are done and a bit more fluff has been dropped.

I also took a swing at my second Branchwych, which is turning out to be interesting. Now, as I've mentioned before, I'm not a fan of the regular Wych model, I think she looks way too similar to a dryad which is the point of the Branchwraith in my eyes. Confirmation of this is in the fact that my SC box Branchwraith is currently doing a sterling job as the champion for my dryads and is not looking out of place at all. For me, based on the background and the Battalion arrangements (Wraith in the Forest Folk dryad battalion, Wych in the Household revenant battalion), the Branchwych should resemble a tree-revenant more than a dryad. I also think the Sylvaneth list is lacking in "lesser" hero options a bit, but that's neither really here nor there (as much as I think a Kurnoth type character would be a nice addition combat-wise, without having to rely on a Spirit of Durthu for that).

What I wanted for the Court was effectively a male Branchwych, a hero Tree-rev effectively that story-wise would be the opposing viewpoint to the more sinister and manipulative Mother Aldwynter - all of this is to come in more detail in the background later. I initially thought of just pimping out a basic Tree-rev a bit, which would have been fine, but why just stop at fine?

Enter the Ogroid Thaumuturge, one of the best models I think GW has done in a long time, and those wonderful swirling runes which so readily evoked a Celtic feel, matching well the Sylvaneth I saw in my head. Of course, the first and major issue was finding a suitable head to use that matched in scale but also matched the feel of the Court overall. I was stumped for a while and then started thinking outside the box - why did it need to be a humanoid head? Why, as the incarnation of the spirit of the winter forest, as the Reeve or Herald of the Court, as an essentially mythical and fae creature, why couldn't he have an entirely different head? A stag head maybe? More importantly, would a stag head work on the Ogroid's hench shoulders and neck?

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Turns out yes, yes it would. At least according to this very very early tacked-together mock-up. There's still a lot more work to do: greenstuffing in the neck and ruff of hair around it, replacing the head of the staff, replacing the armour with something more Sylvaneth, adding more horns and antlers, a new tail... But I'm already super excited.

The Man-stag lives.

That's all for now - work to be done, dryads to be painted, fluff to be written. The lure of Inq28 and others to be avoided, for now at least. And a decision to be made about the Yncarne vs the Nightbringer for my King-in-Horns....

Cheers all!
Knave
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euansmith
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That is very cool; what a great bit of lateral thinking. Are you going to replace the antlers with branches from the Dryad kit to give it more of a Dark Age of Sigmar look? I'm thinking that the stags own antlers maybe look a bit too noble to suit the creepy look of the rest of the warband.
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Knave Of Scribes
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Cheers mate, glad you like the idea so far. So the current plan with the antlers is to keep the current ones, but add more of the twisted antlers and branches from the dryads kit running down his spine, erupting from his skin. The idea is that he's resisting the corrupting touch of Mother Aldwynter and the madness of his King as much as he can, but is still affected and hating it even though its giving him more power.
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A wild (ha!) update appears!

So last night, I should have been either: a) writing the next fluff piece, b) doing some actual writing work, c) assembling tree-revenants or c) painting some dryads. What I categorically should not have been doing is poking the Man-Stag parts and working on him. No sir.

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Again, very rough early mock-up - the staff, armour, loincloth and tail all need work and the neck needs the most work of all, including a glorious mane, but yeah. It's going to work.

And at least I'm no longer distracted by Primaris Marines. Just thoughts of how to turn an Yncarne into the King-in-Horns...

Knave
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euansmith
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"... poking the Man-Stag parts and working on him."

Whatever gets you through the night, dude. ;)

He is looking staggeringly good.
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Knave Of Scribes
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Hello again everyone - apologies for the lack of recent updates, had a busy few week or so sorting things out so haven't had much time to update. I have been hobbying away, but true to form, it's all been on stuff I can't really show off yet, because I hamstring myself with story and a reveal order. Sigh. Suffice to say, the Dryads are now fully painted and based, so should be up soon, but I need to do a quick reveal of Mother Aldwynter first.

I've also managed to tear myself away from making more and more characters (and convincing myself that I don't need an Yncarne of Ynnead, yet. Nor the necromancer from the Mortis Engine, just to do a skull-faced courtier...) and made a start on the first 5 of 30 or so tree-and-spite-revenants. I do really really like these kits, even if poses are a little limited, there's just a great feel and look to them. These first 5 are at the mid stage of assembly - the basics are done but the bases need doing and they need a little bit of greenstuffing and extra thorns/branches added to increase the nightmare wood look a little. I've also taken the time to remove all of the leaves from them to really play up the dead midwinter wood look. Here they are stood around their Household Battalion Branchwych, who is still very wip:

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I'll probably get these fully assembled by the weekend and undercoated as well, can't wait to start the painting. After these, Mother Aldwynter needs painting and then its either grab another box to do the first Spites, or do the Treeman from the SC box. Decisions, decisions...

Euansmith - ha, what a man and his man-stag get up in the privacy of their own home is between them and their god ;) thanks for the enthusiasm and the continued support as well.

Thanks as always for all your support and interest guys, its hugely appreciated and I'm feeling very welcome - big shout out to the guys in GW Gloucester as well for making me feel part of the community again. Who knows, I might even start gaming again at this rate...

Cheers, Knave
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