2020/02/09

OSR: Iconodules, Iconoclasts, and 1d50 Holy Relics and Icons

Optional rule: PCs must be either an Iconoclast or an Iconodule. One sect usually enjoys official support, the other is persecuted with greater or lesser severity. PCs could instead be Disreputable Pagans but where's the fun in that?
Iconodules
As long as a character holds a relic or icon, they gain the benefit listed. Characters can hold any number of relic or icons. Unless otherwise listed, they occupy 1 inventory slot.

The relics of a saint are the saint. Any magic targeting the soul of a person carrying a relic has a 1% chance to strike the relic (and saint) instead. Relics have 6 HP. Saints are immune to most magic, but some particularly powerful spells might be have dire consequences for either the caster, the relic-carrier, or the saint.

Icons must be displayed to have an effect. Unless a specific back frame, helmet, or shield is constructed, displaying an icon requires 1 hand.

The destruction of a carried relic or item deals 1d4 damage to an Iconodule PC. They must also Save or permanently reduce a random stat by 1. Weeping and contrition are not required but are encouraged.

Iconoclasts
Some sects consider holy relics to be merely bits of mouldering corpses, and holy icons as blasphemous idols. Their supposed power comes from mischievous devils or foolish superstition. Destroying these items yields a one-time benefit. The item must be deliberately destroyed. Destroyed icons yield 1d20gp worth of gold and silver leaf.
 
 
Other NotesThe benefits of carrying, displaying, or destroying an icon or relic are not immediately known to the PCs. The GM, for ease of bookkeeping, may make them known to the players, but destroying an icon or relic should always be a gamble.

Characters can switch affiliation with a tedious, humiliating, and expensive public ceremony. The procedure requires a priest and at least 100gp. Switching a second time might be tolerated. A third switch marks the character as a faithless fool; they gain no benefit from either sect and are treated with universal contempt.

Parties can (and should!) contain a mixture of Iconoclasts and Iconodules. Religious affiliation tends to take a backseat to looting and practical survival.

Side Note: This isn't particularly historically accurate in a Byzantine context. Both Byzantine iconoclasts and iconodules treated the relics of saints with approximately equal reverence, and focused their dispute on pictorial or sculptural representations. 
Still, it's only D&D. Replace "Iconoclast" with "Generic Evil Cultist" and/or "Iconodule" with "Summoner-Necromancer", if you're so inclined.


1d50 Relics or Icons

Rule text refer to my GLOG hack, but can be easily adapted to most systems.

1d50 Relic or Icon Benefit (Held) (Iconodule) Benefit (Destroyed) (Iconoclast)
1 Ashes of St. Sophia, pyromartyr. Autoimmolated rather than face eternal shame. Once per day, emit a flame burst. 2d6 fire damage, 10' radius. Does not burn wielder. Can light or extinguish candles and lanterns by touching them. Does not work on larger fires.
2 Blood of St. Cletia, who ate no flesh or cooked food for fifty long years. Can gain the benefit of a meal at lunch without spending a ration. Heal 1d6+2+Level HP at lunch instead of 1d6+Level.
3 Briar-Wrapped Heart of St. Anastasius. Blind, yet dictated mighty sermons. Take 1 damage to have the relic cast light as a torch for 10 minutes. +4 to Save against sight-based attacks (petrification, sigils, etc.)
4 Burial Shroud of St. Larch. Did not expire until he recieved his Abbot's permission.  You have 4 rounds to remove all Fatal Wounds instead of 3 rounds. The next time you would gain Fatal Wounds, gain 1 fewer.
5 Chain of St. Volusian, martyr. Crushed by steel coils, the saint's blood ran pure and clear. As chain armour. Wearer can lose 2 permanent HP to reduce incoming attack damage to 1. Permanently gain +2 HP and +2 Strength.
6 Dying Breath of St. Calixta, whose body was consumed by envious tumors. Reduce the number of Fatal Wounds gained by 2. Fatal Wounds are removed on a 1 or a 2, instead of just on a 1.
7 Finger of St. Strata. Learned scholar and archivist, the saint died while copying holy text. Gain +2 inventory slots that can only contain books, texts, or scrolls. Gain the ability to read 1 additional language.
8 Flayed Skin of St. Hermalyos, martyr. Endured six days of unspeakable torture. Gain +2 Defense. If not wearing armour, gain +2 Defense.
9 Foot of St. Psellus, martyr. Thrown from a tower, he lived just long enough to convert his enemies. Reduce all incoming fall damage by 4. The next time you would take fall damage, you take no damage instead.
10 Glass-Encased Tooth of St. Florus, martyr. Fed live scorpions by his captors. Immune to poison. Reduce incoming poison damage by 2.
11 Hair of St. Basina, martyr. Fleeing an unwanted marriage, she was beaten to death by sticks. Reduce all incoming bludgeoning damage by 2. Permanently gain +1 Constitution.
12 Hand of St. Auxitius, who cured all by his touch or by his prayers. Once per day, can restore 2d6+2 HP to a touched living creature. All Iconoclasts within 100' heal fully and are cured of all curses.
13 Hand of St. Iustina, who tamed wild beasts by her kind words and calm demeanour. +2 bonus to reaction rolls against beasts.  The next time you encounter a hostile beast, it flees instead.
14 Head of St. Ignatio, martyr. His holiness was such that it took nine blows to sever his spine. Reduce all incoming slashing damage by 2. Permanently gain +1 Constitution.
15 Mummified Heart of St. Polyeuktos, martyr. Beheaded, mangled, and scattered. +4 to Save against limb loss. The next time you would Save or lose a limb, automatically pass the Save.
16 Rib of St. Placida, martyr. Her zeal inflamed and her death converted a vast mob. Hirelings gain a +2 bonus to Morale or to Saves against fear. Once Iconodule witness may become an Iconoclast without the need for ceremony.
17 Robe Fragment of St. Martinus the Hermit. Lived unseen in the wilderness for sixty years. Effectively invisible to intelligent enemies until you take offensive action or make an attack. Permanently gain +2 to Stealth.
18 Scapula of St. Alphage, martyr. The lash marks are still visible on the bone. If an ally within 50' takes damage, you can take 1d6 damage to reduce their damage by 6. The next time an attack would deal more than 6 damage to you, it deals 6 damage instead.
19 Skull of St. Domitian, who spent all his family's wealth with a free and easy hand. Can donate, scatter, or burn 100gp to restore all HP or remove 1 curse. Cannot give to allies. The next time treasure is found, +10x1d6gp is also found in a hidden compartment.
20 Skull of St. Ellia, martyr. Her eyes gouged out by hot irons, she still proclaimed her faith. Can see 30' in total darkness. Can see, as normal sight, even if blinded. The next time you would Save or lose one or more eyes, automatically pass the Save.
21 Thighbone of St. Regulus the Theologian. Survived nine shipwrecks while preaching. Save to reduce incoming lightning damage to 0. On a critical sucess, can redirect the lightning. Reduce incoming lightning damage by 2.
22 Tongue of St. Placida, who removed her own tongue to avoid accidental blasphemies. Can speak telepathically to other Iconodules within 50'. Can only broadcast. Permanently gain +2 to Save against mind-altering effects.
23 Vertebra of St. Olibert, martyr. Torn asunder by horses in the arena, he did not cry out. Can choose to make no sound when injured or surprised. +1 Stealth. Permanently gain +1 HP.
24 Eyes of St. Laurier. Vigilant investigator of heresies and abuses in the church. 50% chance to act in a surprise round. Once per day, can detect lies for 10 minutes. Cannot be blinded pr deafened, even if eyes are destroyed or ears mangled.
25 Skull of St. Walter, martyr. His flesh was proof against knives, so his enemies strangled him. Reduce all incoming piercing damage by 2. Permanently gain +1 Wisdom.
26 Gilded Fetters of St. Theonas and St. Wograil, drowned for their faith. While displayed, can breathe underwater for +2 minutes. Permanently gain +1 Strength.
27 Ensign of the Seventh Emperor. Golden starburst on a pole. Unweildy. While displayed, all Iconodules gain +2 to Save. Requires 2 hands. 4 inventory slots. All Iconoclast witnesses heal fully. Yields 20x1d10gp.
28 Icon of St. Athagel, who remained in vigilant prayer for fifty days and nights during a siege. While displayed, all Iconodules within 100' do not need to sleep and cannot be put to sleep. Can fall alseep instantly, in any conditions, and wake at a set time or with a set trigger.
29 Icon of St. Eudoxia, who was nightly tormented by legions of foul demons. While displayed, summoned or unnatural creatures cannot approach within 20'. +2 bonus to reaction rolls against summoned or unnatural creatures. 
30 Icon of St. Evantia the Wanderer. Only stopped her travels to pray and sleep. While displayed, cannot be fettered, slowed, or bound by mundane or magical means. Permanently gain +2 Movement.
31 Icon of St. Gratian, martyr. Tied to a stake and pierced by darts.  While displayed, cannot be hit by mundane missiles. Requires 2 hands. 2 inventory slots. Increase range of all ranged weapons and spells by +30'.
32 Icon of St. Neophotus. Stauch defender of true doctrines, the saint's words were as bedrock.  While displayed, cannot be pushed, moved, or tripped.  Permanently gain +1 Dexterity.
33 Icon of St. Tarsus, Champion of the Faith.  While displayed, all melee attacks by Iconodules within 50' deal +2 damage. All Iconoclast witnesses may reroll 1 stat (3d6) and take the higher result.
34 Icon of St. Tyrophon. At the saint's command, the dead returned to life. While displayed, target fresh corpse answers 3 questions. The corpse can lie. The next time you would die, you are knocked unconcious with -10 HP instead.
35 Icon of St. Verina of the Baleful Gaze. Killed sixteen pagans with a glance. While displayed, once per day, fires a 2d6+2 damage holy bolt at a target within 100'. All offensive spells deal +1 damage.
36 Icon of St. Xenithia of the North. A white-haired convert from beyond the world's edge. While displayed, reduce incoming cold damage by 6. Requires 2 hands. 2 inventory slots. Permanently reduce incoming cold damage by 1.
37 Icon of St. Zusanna, pyromartyr. Walked willingly into the flames. While displayed, reduce incoming fire damage by 6. Requires 2 hands. 2 inventory slots. Permanently reduce incoming fire damage by 1.
38 Icon of the Sword of the First Archangel. Seems to blaze with silver fire. While displayed, all weapons of icon-bearer and allies count as magic weapons.  Your weapons count as magic weapons.
39 Silver Death-Mask of St. Valens, martyr. Executed by rivals, he accepted his fate. While displayed, immune to fear and mind-altering effects. Can be worn on the head. Permanently gain +1 to Save.
40 Icon of St. Cyra, martyr. Visited her congregation in dreams after her death. While displayed, ghosts or undead cannot approach within 20'. Can see ghosts or invisible spirits.
41 Icon of St. Praetextatus the Hermit, who wrestled lions. While displayed, for 3 rounds, an Iconodule's Strength becomes 20. Gain 2 additional quick draw inventory slots.
42 Icon of the Nine Martyrs of Petropolis. From the earliest days of the faith. Nine identical faces. While displayed, Iconodules within 100' gain a +4 bonus to Initiative. Permanently gain +2 Wisdom.
43 Icon of St. Cassia, who turned the beasts of the arena against her tormentors. While displayed, Iconodules within 100' improve their critical range by +1. Choose a weapon type. Increase your critical range with that weapon by +1.
44 Icon of St. Iovivus the Wise. Noted for his clarity, the saint cut through tangled discourse. While displayed, for 1 hour per day, all illusions are revealed as illusions.  Permanently gain +2 Intelligence.
45 Embroidered Sash of St. Servella. Densely woven iconography and stylized scripture. While displayed, all spells targeting the icon or icon-bearer have a 25% chance to fail. Permanently reduce incoming magic damage by 1.
46 Icon of St. Discoria, martyr. No prison could hold the saint. While displayed, once per day, one lock opens. Permanently gain +1 Dexterity.
47 Icon of St. Joanna. Tended to the sick during a terrible plague.  While displayed, all Iconodules within 100' cannot gain new diseases. All Iconoclast witnesses are cured of mundane diseases.
48 Icon of the Bathing Prophet. Popular but slightly scandalous scene from a holy text. While displayed, intelligent creatures must Save or continually glance at the icon. Permanently gain +1 Charisma.
49 Icon of the Tempest of St. Sergia. Golden thunderbolts, azure waves. While displayed, all Iconodules within 50' can walk on water for 10 minutes. Can take 3 steps on water before sinking.
50 Gold Feretory of St. Eugenius, who razed pagan temples and built churches from their ruins. While displayed, all Iconodules deal +2 damage. Requires 2 hands. 6 inventory slots. All Iconoclast witnesses may reroll 2 stats and take the higher results. Yields 30x1d10gp.

PDF



SMBC

Side Note: Guided by the Beauty of our HTML Generators


While searching for existing relic and icon generators (because I'm not going to build a tool if someone has already done it), I found this post on detecmagic.blogspot.com.

It's exactly the opposite of what I need. In that sense, it's a useful illustration.

1. Format
It's a list of all possible variants. It can't be printed, copied, or quickly examined. The push-button HTML rolling function is just a gimmick. Show your work and then I'll press the time-saving button.

201. The finger of a martyr
202. The finger of a king
203. The finger of a queen
204. The finger of a prince
205. The finger of a princess
206. The finger of a scholar
207. The finger of a messiah
208. The finger of a prophet
209. The finger of a culture hero
210. The finger of a mythological figure
When the entire table could be presented as:

d44 The... d10 of a...
1 Breastmilk 1 Martyr
2 Tooth 2 King
3 Femur 3 Queen
4 Tibia 4 Prince
5 Blood 5 Princess
6 Phlegm 6 Scholar
7 Bile 7 Messiah
8 Sternum 8 Prophet
9 Scapula 9 Culture Hero
10 Rib 10 Mythological Figure
11 Pelvis

12 Radius

13 Ulna

14 Bone Chip

15 Spine

16 Brain

17 Liver

18 Intestines

19 Foot

20 Hand

21 Finger

22 Toe

23 Thumb

24 Hair

25 Skull

26 Jaw

27 Nails

28 Beard

29 Bottled Breath

30 Heart

31 Mummified Corpse

32 Skeleton

33 Coprolite

34 Execution Paraphernalia

35 Footprint

36 Outerwear

37 Belt or Sash

38 Undergarments

39 Turban

40 Utensil  or Dinnerware

41 Text

42 Weapon

43 Religious Item

44 Professional Item


2. Duplicates
Over half the d1000 list is duplicated entries. The 10 "Execution Paraphernalia" variant list is repeated at least 3 times.

Do you even need a d1000 list for relics? How often are you going to roll?!
  

3. Lack of Specificity
If I roll on a table, I would like the table to do some of the work for me. This table just creates more work. Let's say I roll "The professional item of a culture hero" (449, 559, or 669, 779, 899, or 999!).

Now I need to invent or roll a professional item. As a sensible GM, I've got a table handy, but what the heck is a "culture hero" in this context? Robin Hood is a culture hero, but is Robin Hood's [roll] hammer a relic?

There's no flavour. "Utensil or Dinerware" is trash compared to "Bottled Breath". "A Martyr" is trash compared to "St. Lucia of Baswell", which in turn is trash compared to "St. Lucia of Baswell, devoured by lions in defense of her faith."

When writing a table, think about how a GM will use the table. Just writing stuff down and putting numbers next to it is not enough. Give guidance! Put some creativity into it! Make it easy, even desirable, for a GM to use the tool you've made!

System-neutral and setting-neutral material can be tricky, but this is not the way. This is just... some text. As usual, elfmaidsandoctopi has better versions of the same concept.

I'd much rather have a setting-specific or system-specfic table that demands to be adapted than an utterly flat setting-neutral table that creates more work for me.

2020/02/07

OSR: Ultraviolet Grasslands Session 6 - I Am A Real Doctor

Last session, the PCs found, looted, and partially demolished a the house of a Porcelain Prince.
Note: If you haven't read Ultraviolet Grasslands, most of this writeup will seem like psychedelic heavy metal Mad Libs. Even if you have ready UVG it's going to be a mess.
The members of the Cat's Meow Trading Company are:

Granville Porter
Cogflower necromancer lawyer. A mutant human thief/necromancer and warlock of Kon-Fabulate. Equipped with starscape skin, a vibrating thumb, a telephone that talks to dead people, and a surprising number of explosives.
  
Lapis
Bluelander engineer. A human hunter on the run. Member of the Bluelander Liberation Front.
  
Gormog the Builder
Safarian merchant adventurer. A half-orc barbarian/fighter and warlock of Kon-Fabulate.
 
Clovis
Exiled pirate liberal. A half-elf barbarian chased out of the Red Lands for their radical views, Clovis has a chainsword and a tattooed map to an aerolith fortress.
  
Karl
Wine vampire priest. A dwarf forcebender wizard and warlock of Deel, Orbital Wargoddess. Full of a strange blend of bloodlust and diplomacy.
  
Frieda
A dwarf demon hunter from the Red Lands secretly fighting the most perfidious demon of all: capitalism.
  
Oblong Dusk
Degenerate quarter-ling Docteure Massese, the faceless Oblong Dusk provides healing and sensual massage... for a fee. A fleshbender and warlock of Deel, Oblong has a free-spirited approach to teamwork, fees, and property.
    
Transport: 2 mules, 2 carts, 1 looted one-person porcelain walker, 4 zombie porters.
Hirelings: 4 Bluelander Revolutionaries, 1 Orangelander Pirate Liberal.

Side Note: the rest of this post contains minor spoilers for the adventure "Glass House of a Dead Prince", UVG pp. 30-31.

2020/02/04

OSR: Imperial Megapalace - Rapid Dungeon Assembly

On Saturday, Feb. 1st, the Pirate group TPK'd to beetles (and greed).
On Sunday, I despaired at the need to find a new genre, system, or plan. The Pirate game, after two TPKs and many hijinks, had run its course.
On Monday, I decided to write a Byzantine megadungeon.

Next game is scheduled for Feb. 16th. If you're in that game, look away! Spoilers abound.

Here's either how I wrote a megadungeon in two weeks.... or how I failed miserably.
 

Step 1: Concept Map

I picked an approximate layout. A round fortress-palace with four towers and a central dome. Crypts and a cistern underneath.

Then, I started tossing rooms onto a piece of paper. I went through existing palace maps (real and fictional) to find common rooms. Adjacent sections overlap or are placed nearby.

Ideas started to solidify. The dungeon would initially have one entrance, but more could be found and opened. Each tower would be guarded by a classic mythical beast. The dungeon will be a testbed for the Monster Overhaul, full of creatures and reskins for convenient playtesting.
 

Step 2: Draft Map

I decided to map the dungeon in Sketchup. It's not an ideal mapping tool, but it does have some handy features:
-ease of rotation

-components (items that can be cloned, but editing one item edits them all)
-ease of checking sightlines and overlap of complex regions

Starting with the south tower and working outwards, I started mapping rooms and zones. I didn't worry about assigning specific functions or occupants to every room. That can come later.

I did start planning routes. Assuming the players enter from the south, where can they go? What will bottleneck them? Is the dungeon sufficiently jaquayed?

I imagined a party moving through the dungeon. What would they see? Where would they go? What about the dungeon's original inhabitants? How would they use this space? Would an Emperor share a corridor with servants? What would diplomats see?

Mapping the dungeon will be a challenge. I'll probably provide players with template maps or approximate scribbings, or let them map it pointcrawl-style.

 

Step 3: Stocking Maps

Main Level
Upper Level + Towers
Crypts
The map is very heavily jaquayed. Some sections are linear or gated, but the bulk of the dungeon is criss-crossed with multiple paths, weird loops, and interesting choices. Secret doors are often one-sided (one side is hidden, one side is obviously a door). If approached from one side, they can create a shortcut back to a previously explored area.

The clock tower (the north tower) has two rotating sections. The bottom section rotates as players discover keys or gears. The upper section rotates on a 1 hour timer.

I want a mix of small and large rooms. Fights should require manuvering and flanking. Give players space to stretch out. Engulf them in the majesty of the Last Emperor.

At this point, the maps are ready to be stocked. They are
still drafts. As I stock them, I'll remove and edit rooms, make notes, and scrawl corrections. 
 

Step 4: Stocking Subsections

I like minimaps. They make running complex dungeons much easier.

I am currently cutting the main map into sections. 3 are present in the image above: the South Tower, the Hippodrome, and the Menagerie.

Numbers are assigned based on probable routes players will take. To minimize flipping, each section will have its own half page, whole page, or 2-page spread.

I'm also writing very brief room notes as I assign numbers. No evocative prose, no details, just "gate" or "manticore" or "trap." If I have details I add them, but at this stage it's better to get the content down. I can always punch up the prose after playtesting.

This section takes ages, especially if I have to renumber a section or find I've missed a critical room. Splitting the dungeon into subsections helps.
 

Next Steps

Stock, stock, and stock some more.

If you've got ideas for things that lurk in the Imperial Megapalace, let me know in the comments.
I can't guarantee I'll take your suggestion (or any suggestions), but it can't hurt to throw ideas out there. Procopius might help.

I'm not sure if this dungeon will become a free product, a Patreon exclusive PDF, a paid Kickstarted thing, or something else entirely. It depends on how the playtest goes, how much I like the final product... and if I get it finished in time.

Scratchpad Notes

To Do

-d100 Encounter Table
-I Search the Body
-d50 / d100 table of backgrounds (not using -lings this time).
-review these tables (good work, past Skerples) and use them.
 

Inhabitants

The Last Emperor
-Anyone who eats his flesh becomes sort-of immortal.
-Also cursed. A lot.

-Regenerates, but is weak.
-Built an Artificial Hell under the palace to torment enemies. Also serves as a regeneration point if he is killed.
 
Medusa
-With blind tigers.
-Possible to negotiate with but far easier to avoid.
 
Manticore

-Lazy
-Probably the first "big" monster the PCs will meet.

-Guards a path up to the Royal Prison.
 
Twisted Giant

-In the cathedral. A bishop grown large. Wields a censer.
 
Ogres

-Twins. One in the Prison Below, one in the Prison Above.
 
Harpies
-In the west tower. Pick off creatures who scale the walls.
 
Hereditary Eunuchs
-Don't ask.
 
Ketolysis Monks
-Flame breath from ketogenic starvation.

2020/01/30

OSR: The World of Rust - Unofficial Bestiary

People on Artstation and other portfolio sites create these personal projects full of astonishing worldbuilding, but they've got no framework for implementing their worldbuilding. Even if they know RPGs exist, they might not have the skills, contacts, experience, or time to adapt their work.
 
People in the DIY RPG community have plenty of experience producing, publishing, distributing, and writing books, but (often), not enough cash for lavish art. Sometimes they also lack artistic inspiration.

Two groups of two people. Two eminent compatible passions.

The only project I can think of that started as art and became an RPG is Tales from the Loop, which started as Simon Stålenhag's disconnected art pieces, became narrative art books, and eventually had an RPG adaptation.

So if you see someone build a world with superb art, and you think you've got the skills to execute a project successfully, see if they're interested in creating an RPG, setting guide, or bestiary from their work. I'd suggest including non-exclusive rights (so the art and ideas can be reused elsewhere if a better offer comes along) and fair method of revenue sharing. Maybe the artist says no. Maybe they ignore you. But it's worth a shot.

Full RPG systems are ambitious and difficult projects. Writing a complete system requires a very specific skill set and a lot of playtesting. Setting-neutral material is tricky to create but can be much more rewarding.

Right now, Nicolas Folliot (twitter) is potentially working on some sort of RPG adaptation of Lucas Roussel's Le Monde de Rouille setting. I don't have all the details but it seems very exciting.

The original setting is in French. If you can read French, great! If not, OCR + translation software is so advanced these days that it's a matter of minutes run the images through a few programs to get the gist of the text.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1KATey5KWXBfS-e5dB22pxhSwyUi4XNpI

PDF


With Lucas' permission, I've created an unofficial free 29-page bestiary and random encounter table for the "L'Exante" / "Era of Ruins" period. It's a great sci-fantasy / sword-and-planet / Ultraviolet Grasslands resource.

Translations are my own. My French is good enough that waiters in Paris look at me like I've spit in their coffee, then speak very slowly to me in English, waiters in Belgium laugh and call their friends over, and waiters in Quebec call the OQLF to arrest me. You've been warned.

Images have also been lightly edited and whitepointed for easy printing.

The bestiary is just a list of monsters, plus a massive d120 table of Omens and Encounters. To roll a d120, use a d12 for the 10s place and a d10 for the 1s place. No stats are provided.

There's also a GLOG-style d20 table of races.

Enjoy!

2020/01/27

40k: Building a Space Hulk, Part 2

In Part 1, I covered the initial plans for this project. In brief, I'm "crashing" Iron Sleet's Primogenitor Invitational, where a bunch of incredibly talented people get together and work on vaguely cohesively themed projects.
Games Workshop

Twin Rogue Traders, born moments apart, the undisputed children of Eusebius Drakemorton Cadrel and dynastic concubine sanctioned by the Sisters Famulous. A prodigy, reported to Administratum and filed, no doubt, among the other signs and wonders of the Imperium's waning days.

The Lex Imperialis, whose volumes and commentaries are said to stretch from one end of the galaxy to the other, provided the remedy for this dynastic crisis. An obscure clause in the Cadrel Warrant of Trade referenced one law, that law referenced another, and so after months of research (with the proverbial Sword of Dorn hanging over the infants), the adepts of the dynasty produced a satisfactory solution. Duabus anima in pari materia. Two souls, two bodies, two minds, yet one legal entity.

On their father's death, there would be only one Rogue Trader Cadrel. The Rogue Trader Cadrel, who only existed as the manifestation of the joint will of the twin children. Eusebius hired the finest tutors and psychosurgeons to raise them in the Cadrel ways. Jealousy and infighting were burned away; the two children were made closely codependent, unable to imagine life without the other or dream of seizing sole dynastic power. An unconventional approach, but what Rogue Trader dynasty follows convention?

When Eusebius died, Barabbas and Barnabus assumed control of a dynasty on the wane. Revenues from the Cold Trader - Xenos artifacts looted from distant worlds and sold to discerning collectors under the thinnest possible veil of legality - kept creditors and political rivals at bay, but the dynasty's coffers were slowly running dry.
Evilonavich
The brothers met, as they often did, in the Cold Lightning's tertiary strategium. Neutral ground. No spies, no vox-recorders, no servants. Just two halves of the same Rogue Trader, discussing things without the mask of formal ceremony and secret signals. Many grand plots had lived and died in the ancient rust-streaked walls of the strategium.

"The Cygnus Gamma shipyards built four Hellbender-class cruisers," Barabbas said, in a storyteller's sing-song tone. "Only four. The Hellbender, first of her line, was destroyed in the Gothic Wars. The Lance of Dawn rests in the third reserve fleet of Holy Terra. The Gamella Magna was lost with all hands at the Battle of Corona VI. And the Cinderspine..."

"The Cinderspine, flagship of the Kossgrave dynasty, sailed beyond the Ghoul Stars and never returned," Barnabus said, cutting off his brother's story. "Is that why you brought me here, brother? Nostalgia for the old nursery tales?"

Barabbas smiled. "I found it. The Cinderspine." He tapped the a few keys and the holoprojector whirred to life. The images were faint and distorted. "Three weeks ago, one of our agents bribed an Imperial Navy auger-interpreter for maximal resolution pict-captures of Interdicted Object Theta-Grey-Epsilon. The space hulk they call Primogenitor."

"And the Cinderspine is part of the hulk?"

"Indisputably. Look, just here, you can see the dorsal spars. No other class then or since carried those triplex-arrays. In this pict you can even see a corner of the dynastic crest. The gun batteries would be here, putting the bridge and private sanctum here." But Barnabus wasn't listening. He was finishing the story, in the same sing-song tone, in his head.

The Cinderspine, flagship of the Kossgrave dynasty, sailed beyond the Ghoul Stars and never returned. Lord-Captain Sophia Kossgrave claimed to have charted a route through the Helical Rifts. The worlds beyond: unexplored, treasure-bearing, rich. The Lord-Captain sailed with her entire fleet. All contact was lost.

Three hundred years later, one ship, the frigate Scorpion, returned to the Imperium. Half her crew were dead, the other half were mad. Her navigator burned all charts and auto-immolated once they reached port. The ship's holds contained wealth beyond measure. Ingots of priceless ores stacked like nutri-bricks. Techno-relics from forgotten ages. The ship's logs indicated this wealth was chaff and dross to the fleet. They had been sent back to unload and return with more cargo vessels.

Since that day, no ship has crossed the Helical Rifts and returned. Of the Lord-Captain Kossgrave, the Cinderspine, and her fabled hoard, nothing is known.

"When can we sail?" he said.
  
   

The Space Hulk: Primogenitor

 
 
 

The first two 1'x1' panels are essentially complete. The cargo needs polishing and some plastic bits, but the main landing bay is done.

Working with plaster is fun but slightly more time-consuming than expected. Sorting bits and making sure they're bone dry is slow. If I wanted a perfectly even Paranoia or Star Wars space ship, I'd also need to spend time checking measurements to ensure exact alignment. For space hulks, +/- 1/16" of an inch isn't going to harm anyone.

Three main 1'x1' panels remain: a fuel depot, a second landing bay, and a temple-shrine.

I've been experimenting with weathering methods. I should have realized salt weathering (in any form) won't work on plaster. Even sealed with two coats of primer, plaster absorbs water like crazy. It sucks in the salt and crumbles in interesting (but unpredictable) ways.

The design ethos is "dead but not rotting". I want to create a distinctly Imperial ship that feels abandoned but not yet utterly corrupt. A lot of space hulk boards feel like a maze of generic mechanical greebling. I'd like to inject some form of symmetry and purpose into the design, as if this was a real place and not just a set.
I've recently been inspired by Neil101's terrain (blog) but the level of sand, ash, and general decay is too high for this project. I don't want this ship to look scavenged or repurposed. Smashed, distorted, maybe with a boarding torpedo wedged in it somewhere, but not a ruin turned into a hab turned into a factory turned into a ruin.

I also want to keep that very 40k mashup of high technology and low gothic. Elegant curves plated in false stone to give a sense of borrowed antiquity. Vents repurposed to hold cables. Looming iconography. Practical details. A sense of overwhelming scale. This hangar is just a minor shuttle bay on the side of a single cruiser.

Scale and Pattern

The walls of the 1x1' panels typically have five doors. Three on the lower level and two on the upper, 5" off the base. They're not all identical, but the idea is that the panels can be pushed against each other or connected by other bits of terrain. The 5/8" MDF base (without the 1/4" plaster floor) is the same height as my other terrain boards, meaning the hulk's panels can be mixed with other modular terrain sets. 5" is also the floor height of Games Workshop's Sector Imperialis and Sector Mechanicus lines. Sections can be attached directly or connected by small 3" tall corridor segments.

I like the large open sections. Space hulk corridors are deliberately claustrophobic, but you can't have claustrophobia without contrast. Hangars, holds, and temples provide spaces for massive firefights and even light vehicles.
 

Paint

The current plan is to basecoat black, add weathering in umber, sienna, and ochre, and overspray in a white-yellow. Then, a whole bunch of washes, texture daubs, and error correction. We'll see how it goes.

I'm not much of a painter, so working with colours that are "natural" seems sensible. Ochre is clay; umber and sienna are great for painting rust because they are rust. Oil paints are great for painting oil because they are oil.

The ideal end result should be something like Kari Hernesniemi's Monastery project... but significantly worse.