Well, there we have it. The Middlehammer Legacy Project 2018 comes to an end after three and a bit months of hobbying and 16 entries from 15 different people from across the UK, and on to Belgium, Sweden, Finland, and the good old US of States!
This years theme was a Chaos Warband of the Weird and Wonderful and the entries certainly fulfilled the brief! With everything from Classic Middlehammer Beastmen and Chaos Warriors, to Alien like mutants, Circus Strongmen, Snakewomen, Minotaur Daemon Princes and bloated Chaos Lords sculpted specially for the project, it certainly is an eclectic mix!
I have to say I'm relieved we didn't get the 40+ entries that initial interested threatened, although it was great to see how much enthusiasm the idea continues to generate, and I'm thrilled that translated into double the number of participants and entries from last year. Many of last year's participants returned for another crack but it was also great to say plenty of new faces taking part.
As with last year one of the best things about the project has been the camaraderie, be it the offers of shipping shields from Scandinavia free of charge to participants in need, or offers to chip in on extortionate international shipping to potentially help people take part, or the consistent levels of support for the other participants shown by all involved. This project is definitely a showcase for much that is good about the hobby, and without question my favourite project of the hobby calendar, so thank you to everyone involved for their part in that!
There was a suggestion early on that if we got enough entries then we might end up splitting them into two Warbands of the Weird and Wonderful. The Purple and Off White colour scheme really has served to tie them all together so they could work as a single war band, but I think there is possibly a natural (or unnatural?) split in the minis that would make this work as two smaller bands (which the two winners may then choose to add to over time if they wish).
The first group are a band of Chaos Warriors bonded to the service of a hideously beautiful Daemon Prince and his/her alien like mutant servants, summoned by a mysterious skull faced sorcerer, all having fallen to the temptations of Slaanesh!
The second group are a foetid bunch of bestial mutants who have embraced the corruption of the eightfold path (several of the minis in this group bear the eight pointed chaos star), following the daemonic guidance of 'The Lady' they have imbued their Lord with the power of Nurgle!
But as you can see below, both bands have been infiltrated by agents of Tzeentch! What plans does the Changer of the Ways have for these roving bands in the long term?
Apologies for the terrible photos that certainly don't do the fantastic paintjobs justice, and further apologies for the poetic license taken with some of the back stories to help make the narrative flow and the war bands come together.
Hyr'ppppp, Messenger of Slaanesh, Daemon Prince (Gary Lewis)
Heinrich was a state messenger based in Hochland who first came to Slaanesh's notice when he managed to avoid and then kill two champions of Khorne without drawing blood, (a drowning and a suffocation in a landslide). Then he outwitted a snakebodied female champion of Tzeentch in the mirror forest, and finally escaped the clutches of the Nurgle Lord Swole, while his steed died of disease under him. All three times the message got through.
Chaos Gifts: Daemon Prince; Face of a Keeper; Claw of Daemonette; Legs of Steed; Musk of a Fiend; Mark of Slaanesh
The Message: Not trusting the written word Slaanesh's message is a dying champion of Khorne. He will whisper the message in the recipients ear. If not the correct person then his bite is deadly!
Notes: Fear; Mark of Slaanesh (Immune to Psychology); Aura of Slaanesh (4+ Save, require Ld test to strike in combat); Musk (Affects any living creature within 6", victims get -1 to ALL hit rolls); Claw (wounds caused with extra -3 save modifier); Tongue Attack (as per Steed of Slaanesh p53 of Warhammer Armies Chaos 4th Ed.)
Equipment/Magical Items: Spiked Mace, Cursed Book (+25pts); Crimson Armour of Dargon (+25pts); Blade of Sea Gold (+30pts)
Erasmus Schwarzdorn, He Who Serves. (Chester Mike)
The towering Chaos Champion Erasmus Schwarzdorn was once a Captain of the Imperial Navy. During an ill-omened voyage escorting traders to the far kingdom of Ind Schwarzdorn's vessel was sunk by the gargantuan Temple of Spite, Black Ark of Duriath Helbane, and the captain himself taken captive.
For months Schwarzdorn and his surviving crew suffered at the hands of their cruel captors, praying to Sigmar with every waking breath until at last only the Captain himself remained. The great god of the Empire never answered.
In the end, his faith broken and his body spent, the Dark Elves cast him overboard, a tasty morsel for whichever foul creature of the deep got to him first. As he plunged towards the ocean he let out one last cry for help, calling to any god listening to spare him, then vast inky darkness swallowed him. His lungs filling with sea water, the blazing sun growing ever dimmer, he was suddenly bathed in a golden light.
“Serve me and live” a sibilant voice spoke. “Your false god has failed you. Serve me and know the true power of a god”.
With his last strength Schwarzdorn nodded his assent before the darkness engulfed him.
He woke on a strange shore, a white castle with a long curved roof standing prominently on a forested hill not far off. Where he was and how he had got there he did not know but he knew he had a power beyond his comprehension to thank for saving him.
“Conquer,” the voice hissed once more. “This is my command to you. Conquer this land they call Nippon. Serve well in the name of Tzeentch and rewards beyond your imagination will be yours”.
“I serve.” was Schwarzdorn's reply.
In the months that followed Schwarzdorn began the journey that was to make him the scourge of the mysterious island of Nippon. He gathered an army from amongst the wandering warriors known as Ronin; masterless men despised by their countrymen and eager to follow anyone who gave them a purpose. He supplemented these with the strength of the vast hordes of mutated beasts that stalked the forests, with whom dark pacts were made under Morrslieb's light in rituals best left unspoken. Villages and towns burned, fortresses razed and entire armies of men destroyed as Schwarzdorn's forces ravaged the island. In the Temple of Kamigawa he found the huge flaming axe he now wields whilst his armour was liberated from the vaults of the warlord Mifune.
His forces grow in strength and one after another the lords of Nippon shall fall before his inexorable advance until at last he stands at the gates of the Emperor's palace itself. Maybe after the ruler falls he will return to the Old World but he knows that he is subject wholly to the whims of his inscrutable master, whose plans are too detailed for any mortal mind to comprehend.
Two stat lines for Erasmus as warranted by Mike's brilliant back story. First as a Chaos Lord of Tzeentch as Mike intended:
And for when he is going undercover in the warband as a Chaos Warrior of Slaanesh, no doubt seeking to subvert the whole band to the service of Tzeentch in the ultimate tribute to the Changer of the Ways!:
Equipment: Two-handed Axe (+2 Strength); Heavy Armour (5+ Save); Mark of Tzeentch (Dispel Magic cast against him on a 4+)
Sir Grevous Grant, Fallen Knight, or Aspiring Warrior of Slaanesh? (Tom Young)
The visions started when they died.
I am alone.
Only the Lady gives me solace.
The visions of her have gotten stronger. Blood seems to intensify them. I've seen her, asking for me to be strong - side with the darkness until she comes to save me. But the price is high. Whisperings of pain, loneliness, and guilt rack me, but she says this is but a test.
Side with the darkness.
Show her a way to the Daemon.
Then she will save us.
Equipment: Sword, Heavy Armour, Shield (4+ Save)
Gladius 'the Hacker', Hedonistic Hero of the Arena (AVP Shaun)
GLADIUS! The blood soaked hero of the arena!
GLADIUS! The toxically intoxicated glutton of the pleasure pits!
GLADIUS! The perfume drenched reaver of the harems!
GLADIUS! Worshipper of pleasure and pain in equal measure!
GLADIUS! A man so obsessed with his appearance that he must relentlessly travel the lands seeking more noble ladies to seduce so he can steal their mirkins to add to his giant purple crest!
Equipment: Sword, Light Armour, Shield (5+ Save), Mark of Slaanesh (Immune to Psychology)
The Scrivener, Chaos Sorcerer (Alex Scriven)
"My word there were a lot of skulls about these days. Far more than seemed to be warranted by the number of actual dead bodies on the battlefield it would seem. And why did the rest of the warband insist on pluralising them with a 'Z'!? As if you needed to spell it 'Skullz' to make them sound cooler?"
As he continued to muse upon the apparent mismatch between ratios of partially intact craniums to other forms of bony battlefield remains, and the peculiarities of linguistic trans-loquation between alternative subcultures, the young Chaos Sorcerer (Undivided, or as he like to put it when asked by fellow zealots of the eightfold path "Undecided") decided that it would be best to put all these skulls to some form of use.
Soon he was decked out in a brand new skull faced mask with added rams horns, and was inviting everyone he knew around to drink from the skulls of his enemies, and listen to his experimental jazz on his Ogre Skull bongos.
When one of the skulls started talking back to him as he sat polishing it he decided he had better listen. Realising it was whispering the incantations to spells even more powerful than those he already knew he sat the talking skull atop his staff and grabbed a nearby engraving tool and began inscribing the words of the spell onto the next skull in the pile.
Soon he had an entire library of spells inscribed on skulls of various creatures large and small, and he had earned himself the title of The Scrivener! But the whispering of the skull never stops and slowly but surely the whisperings will surely drive him madder than the worst gibbering spawn. Is it a price worth paying? Only time will tell...
Equipment/Magic Items: Sword, Heavy Armour (5+ Save), Skull of Katam (From the Warhammer Armies Chaos Box set for WFB4; Allows Lvl 2 or 3 spells to be cast for one power card less, but user risks being driven mad by the whispered secrets of the skull each time he uses it); Level 2 Magic User.
Askerith, Servant of Slaanesh (Koen Geerearts)
Askerith was a Druchii dancer dedicated to Slaanesh, making her a prime target on Death Night for the devotees of Khaine. She managed to escaped by having her body possessed by a daemonette from the Masque’s troupe who had taken an interest in her, allowing her to weave and slice through her attackers with preternatural skill. To this day, the daemonette still inhabits her, slowly corrupting her physical form; her only chance to weaken its grip is rendering it ecstatic by dancing and killing, thereby loosening its vice-like grip on her body. To this end, she has struck a deal with the Masque, desperately attempting to escape having her soul devoured by dancing and killing her way through whatever enemy has the misfortune to stand before her.
Equipment and rules: Bastard Sword (+1S), Daemonic Aura (5+ Save), Fear, Mark of Slaanesh (Immune to Psychology)
Glaur, Servant of Slaanesh (Stewart Young)
Glaur had spent a lifetime fighting for the dark gods, a lifetime of battle and war cleaving at bodies to impress them, waiting for the gods to bestow their gifts on him. When they finally did it repulsed Glaur, all that pain and bloodshed for this. Unable return to a semi normal society Glaur now stalks the northern wastes fighting for whichever warband will take him.
Equipment and rules: Spear, Claw (Wounds with extra -3 save modifier) Daemonic Aura (5+ Save ), Fear, Mark of Slaanesh (Immune to Psychology)
'Mad' Marik Trollbiter, Chaos Dwarf Pervert (Me!)
No Dwarf asked 'Mad' Marik why he joined their band of outcasts and misfits, Trollslayers being a bit like the Brettonian Foreign Legion about stuff like that. Similarly his bright blue hair caused no qualms, and even his chained nipple piercings only raised a few eyebrows, although it might have been that they were the ones with piercings in. No, it was only once the band tracked down their first troll pack since Marik joined them that he started to seem, errr, a touch outre?
The rest of the band decided it was easier to accept his excuse that it wasn't what it looked like and that he was in fact giving the troll a savage bite to the groin before delivering the 'death blow', and to be fair he had then decapitated the thing to prove his point. The excuse started to wear thin after the first half dozen times...
...but it was the incident with that Horny Minotaur in the ruined temple that finally saw Mad Marik 'Trollbiter' expelled from even that most savage of Dwarven fraternities.
Marik headed north in search of more Trolls to err.... bite! Soon he fell to the whispers of Slaanesh on the winds of the Chaos Wastes, abandoning the last vestiges of his former self and getting all new spiky armour and weapons, more in keeping with his new identity. Now he serves in any warband that can muster enough monstrous muscle to catch his eye...
Mad Marik Trollbiter is a Chaos Dwarf (4th Edition, as it is a Middlehammer project) with an extra attack due to his tendency to bite, and a bonus to his initiative due to his experience in finishing clandestine encounters quickly!
Equipment: Spiked Mace, Heavy Armour, Shield (4+ Save), Mark of Slaanesh (Immune to Psychology)
Lord Swole, Chaos Lord of Nurgle (Christian Supiot-Perez)
Lord Swole was looking for a direction in life. Sure he had pledged himself to the glory of the Chaos Gods, but wasn't it about time he made his choice and settled down with one of them?
That first time he had smashed his mighty spiked mace through the face of his enemy he had felt sure he was one of Khorne's boys, but a chance encounter with an alluringly horny servant of Slaanesh some months past had made him think again.
Not only was he denied the secrets of the message, but the hideous bite delivered by the undying champion of Khorne carried by the Bestial Beauty had festered on Lord Swole's face. Convinced that if Khorne was truly with him this would never have happened Lord Swole began to listen to the beguiling suggestions of the one carrying the message and the perverse possibilities that the worship of Slaanesh promised...
Alas, this led to yet more disappointment as in the 10 minutes it took for him to go and get his nipples pierced through his armour to impress his new Mistress, he/she/it had made their escape and left him stood on his own with shiny new nipple rings and a massive... sense of frustration.
As is only natural in such times of romantic rejection, Lord Swole sought solace in food and in drink. He was happy to stumble into the burning remains of a Halfling village being ransacked by a rag tag bunch of cultists and beastmen, and even happier to find a team of the tiny folk outside the village tavern with a cauldron full of boiling pigswill in a makeshift catapult.
"Eat this!" cried the Halfling Chef commander as the crew fired the catapult.
"Don't mind if I do!" Cried Lord Swole as he opened his distended jaw and swallowed the hot mess of rotten garbage in one mighty gulp!
The chants of the cultists and the braying of the beast men were white noise to Lord Swole as he followed up the foul soup with a main course of three halflings still live and kicking, washed down with a tun of Scrumpy Cider, complete with a garnish of floating pigeon droppings and drowned rat bodies.
The chanting became a ritual as the unholy banquet began to roil and fester in Lord Swole's stomach. Some say the cries of the halflings could still be heard above the pained moans of Lord Swole as he led there, holding his bloated gut.
The war band knew they had found their leader. Lord Swole knew he had found his patron. If he could get him through gastric distress of that level without pledging his eternal soul to Malal, then Nurgle was alright by him!
Equipment: Spiked Mace, Heavy Armour, Shield (4+ Save), Mark of Nurgle (+1 T)
Groth the Rat-man (Matt Gee)
Groth scurried onwards. His hard sharp claws scraping against the earth and stone floor as he sped away down the tunnel. He daren’t look back for fear of slowing his advance and glimpsing sight of the Moulder Packmasters who were hounding him. He had bidden his time long enough and now was questioning the wisdom of his choices and the voices that had spoken to him in the night. They had started slowly as a feint echo as he slept, caressing the last thoughts of the day and gently suggesting that the time of the council’s end was close. Slowly they had risen to a torrent in his mind drowning his faith in the horned rat, to be replaced by the unending cacophony of discord.
He ran on. The tight confines of the snaking shaft beginning to open out and the warpstone lights beginning to dim. They were replaced by the distant beginnings of daylight. Before the escape he had committed one final act, designed to destroy ratkin he had once seen him self as equal to. He had seen the true light of chaos he had few qualms in loosening the rusted bolts holding the various hideous creations housed in the depths. Even now, driven to a frenzy through lack of food and constant torture, they would be rerunning amok amongst their erstwhile jailers and causing havoc.
He darted into the daylight leaving the world of his brethren. His keen eyes squinted and adjusted to the light searching for cover. His glare rested on a ruined outhouse and he bolted for it, found a splintered ladder and used it to access an abandoned hay loft. Heart thumping in his chest he slowly calmed and regained his breath, drifting into sleep to wait for the night.
He was awoken by the latch on the outhouse being raised, followed by nervously approaching hooded individual. He was garbed in a dirty cream and mauve cloak wrapped loosely round him and roughly tied with a simple rope belt. As Groth followed his progress he saw him join a small group of individuals who had already entered the hovel while he slept. The language was unknown but the intention of the group slowly became clear. In guttural tongues they canted awkward syllables, as they did the previously un-noticed runes and markings scattered on the floor began to glow. The voices reached their zenith, an apparition appearing bathed in violet light projecting visions of endless pleasure and slaughter. The fur on the back of his neck stood on and and an crackled with static.
In an instant it was over and the cowled figures bowed low to each other and as one turned to file out of the room. As the last cultist approached the door Groth swept down behind him and plunged his rusted stiletto between his shoulder blades, smothering his gaping mouth with a dirt smeared paw. He quickly shed his ragged garments, dressed in the stolen clothes, raised the hood to shade his identity and headed off into the night. His path to eternal greatness had commenced...
Equipment: Whip (counts as Flail), Light Armour (6+ Save)
Grunt Skullcrusher, Chaos Marauder (and Purplush) (Igge Holmberg)
Grunt Skullcrusher had always thought that his village was too small for his ambitions.
He had heard that further up in the wastes there was fame and fortune of the Gods to be had.
And that was the truth.
After a couple of months of travelling he got a nice little companion that tagged along with him, and helped him find food, sure the carcasses were often rotten but the meat were still edible and Nurgle, that he thought were his favourite had granted him a purple deamon follower.
The tastes and pains in his stomach was consistent with what the elders had told him, life from decay, all followers of Nurgle found the truth. And so had he.
Now he just wanted to find some more people willing to join with him and let him lead them to glory.
And he knew were to find them… his companions had gathered and he was eager to show them what he and Purplush (as he had named him) could do, that they were going to lead them to victory for Nurgle, that he was certain of.
Equipment: Sword, Light Armour, Shield (5+ Save)
Purplush: single Nurgling with hand weapon, Daemonic Aura (4+ Save)
Bukthac Blazingmane (Jörgen Karlsson)
Bukthac was howling with fury, how dare those puny humans stand before him, he was a child of chaos, born as a Gor, Gor was strong, human was weak. The gods of chaos had chosen him, he would show them, he would kill them, eat them, their weak gods would not, nay, could not save them from the Gor.
Equipment: Halberd (+1S), Bestial Table Manners
Gunter Firkenshart, The Circus Strongman (Joseph Waldron)
Gunter Firkenshart had enjoyed his time with the Circus of Corruption, but after the local Imperial authorities took an interest in finding out just what had happened at Runderskill, the Village that Vanished, the troupe had decided that it might be wise to split up for a while and go their separate ways.
Gunter wandered north, following the whisperings of his tiny Rotling companion, Clegnut. Soon he fell in with a fellow traveler named Grunt and his own daemonic little buddy Purplush. Purplush and Clegnut seemed to know where they were going, and Grunt had a nose for finding dead meat to feed on, so Gunter was happy to follow along, occasionally pausing to lift anything that looked really, really heavy.
Once the travelers stumbled across the growing Warband of Lord Swole, Gunter was glad to have a patron and an audience who appreciated his talent for entertainment once again, plus Clegnut seemed happy and had stopped jabbering about traveling north. For now at least...
Equipment: Barbell (2h weapon, +2S); Mark of Nurgle (+1T); Clegnut (Daemonic Aura, 4+ Save; +1A at S3, I4)
Alicia, Snake Woman of Tzeentch (David Musgrave)
"That's pretty" she whispered, holding the bejewelled necklace in one hand, casually licking the congealing blood of it's former owner off the other.
Slipping it round her neck Alicia glanced at her reflection in the old tarnished hand mirror the girl had carried. Lustrous dark hair falling around slim shoulders, she could still see the serving girl she'd been, back in Bechafen, all those decades before.
How things had Changed ... The count's fall from grace and exile to far, exotic Araby; his subsequent, very bloody demise at the hands of the Disciples of the Red Redemption, which left her as a slave in the household of the Caliphate of Lashiek; the feeling of the bloated toad's dying breath as she strangled him; the strangely warm, pulsating, hypnotic tourmaline ring she'd stripped from his corpse; vivid, lingering memories of blood and excess, tainted smoke and mirrors.
Smiling, she slithered round the ruined corpses of the caravan guards and went in search of the of the warband she had seen in her vision, leaving the Mirrored Forest behind her.
Chaos Gifts: Zoological mutation - snake = M7, Cause Fear, Hypnotic gaze
Equipment/Magic Items: Poisoned weapon, Chaos Shield (counts as Enchanted Shield, 5+ Save)
Squid Faced Markus, Mutant of Tzeentch (David Musgrave)
Markus, a former Empire man at arms, after falling out with employer sought less reliable employ as a tomb raider.
"This is the last bloody thing I'm doing for the Duke, I don't care how much he's paying.
'Just a simple job' he says, collect the chest and get the contents ... I wish!
Mud, depravity, terrible conditions and I'm not even in Moussilon yet! - in hindsight should not have agreed to this after the flagon of wine!!"
"Can see why he wanted this! Despite the muck and obvious time this has been here there's barely any rust, bit of verdigris but the casket alone is worth a fortune. Not sure what the decorations are supposed to be, rather faded, but seem slightly vine like, or tentacles?"
"This sodding chest is just full of water! Can hear it sloshing around inside and its too heavy to drag any more. He wanted the chest and contents, didn't say about not opening it!"
"Rubbish lock .. what's the point if you can walk through it. Watertight chest - just empty this and get the stuff he needs.
Oh, er ... water shouldn't do that ... Sh*t, helllpppp!"
Mutant of Tzeentch: Tentacled face = +1A, Poisoned attack, Causes fear, Mutated arm +1S, Tail = no effect
Equipment: Hand Weapon, Bulky robes = Light Armour (6+ Save)
The Dark Shepherd (George Shepherd)
From the blasted valley of the Ash Ford he came, the Dark Shepherd. Though he had been mauled and broken, part of his very being lost to the winds of Chaos, he had survived. He would prevail. His journey would continue.
He came across the war band of Lord Swole in the midge blighted, leech sodden forests to the west. The stink of corruption was heavy upon them. This was good. This was as had been foretold.
He was the last to arrive, but by the unholy light of the Chaos Icon he bore he would be the one to lead them onward to slaughter and victory!
Equipment: Hand weapon, Shield (6+ Save), Plague Banner
Well, that's my take on things anyway, and I certainly had fun thinking about how they all linked together as the various entries and backstories arrived over time.
Of course it's going to be up to the winners to decide what happens next with these two warbands, and I really hope we get plenty of updates on the Middlehammer Facebook page when they do see action on the table top!
All that remains is to say one last massive thank you to everyone who took part (you are all top hobby geezers!), and also to those who weren't able to take part this time but showed great support for the project and the participants.
It's definitely enough motivation to do another one next year! Do you fancy joining us?