Fluff

My original goal was to create a homebrew Space Marine Chapter with fluff. When I first got into the hobby in the early nineties I regulalry bought White Dwarf. I used to borrow back issues from friends and I really enjoyed the short stories in the older White Dwarfs. The stories made the worlds of fantasy and 40k so much richer.

Getting back into the hobby I have enjoyed revisiting these stories. I am glad to see GW producing more of this material through media like MalignPortents.com. There is also lots of third party stuff too. I particulalry enjoy the style of ExProfundis.com. It’s super GrimDark although a lot of it is Age of Sigmar. I think they refer to their style as AoS28.

It struck me that the fluff I like the best doesn’t explain everything. The ambiguities make it more interesting. There’s a real art to creating an atmosphere or eliciting an emotion in a short passage and it adds so much to what are essentially products and ExProfundis is so good at it. One of my favorite stories can be read here.

I wrote the fluff for the Sauroters quite early into the project. I have returned to it several times to edit. It’s not perfect by any means but I’m quite pleased with it. If you want, you can read it by clicking on the pages at the top of the site. I will also include all of it below for convenience:

 

Home World
Thalassa is an Ocean World in the Ultima Segmentum. Originally a Forge World during the Dark Age of the Imperium, a catastrophic accident caused a rapid, uncontrollable rise in sea levels. The unfortunate population either took to the waves in ramshackle craft or kickstarted a sudden explosion in marine life, heralding the geological development of a planet size ocean.

Rediscovered during the Great Crusade, Thalassa’s drastically reduced population had developed a trade based society centered around huge city-state flotillas. Their once high tech society reduced to seasonal migration and intermittent warfare. Eventually Thalassa became the homeworld of the Sauroters Chapter whose fortress monastery occupies the only land mass on the planet.

Located on the equator, Halia is the summit of a vast mountain, the bulk of which is underwater. The Sauroters maintain a fortress monastery there where aspirants may present themselves, having first solo-circumnavigated the planet as proof of their worthiness. Those not claimed by the dwellers of the deep oceans, nor driven mad by the unrelenting sun, are ready to begin their transformation into an Astartes.

As the Imperial Truth gave way to the Imperial Cult, so  too did the Thalassan’s interregnum sun worship come to be replaced with an unwavering belief in the Emperor of Mankind. Represented now by the Vergina Sun. Symbol of the Sauroters Chapter and holy Terra’s ancient Agean past.

 

Recruitment
Life on the great city-state flotillas of Thalassa is spartan indeed. Free divers are able to reach the very tips of the submerged hive spires of old Thalassa but risk the ruptured eye balls and crippled lungs of the bends. Even more terrifying are the flora and fauna of the upper oceans, evolved to confuse and ensnare. To consume and absorb. Yet, no other source of metal exists.

Occasionally some titan of the deep ocean, swollen with the pestilent gases of decomposition will breach the surface. It’s chitinous spines and bloated poison sacks replenishing stocks of wargear—fueling raids against rival flotilla. Food, metal, mates and slaves. Of these, slaves are the most valuable. Both as a means of propulsion and in the lean times survival.

Observing all, the Apothecaries and Chaplains of the Sauroters, select the most resourceful and ruthless. Communicating via signs and portents, Chapter Serfs posing as Oracles are instructed to deliver these young men as tribute to the deities of Halia; sole land mass on Thalassa and undoubted seat of God.

Setting foot on dry land for the first time, Aspirants climb the mountain to the temple atop the highest point on Halia. There the inscriptions on the pillars of the temple describe the ordeal ahead. Alone, in an open boat, an Aspirant must circumnavigate the planet. Equipped only with a smooth handled adze of polished wood and bronxe and a carvel built boat fashioned from the sacred trees of the temple precincts.

Hollowed by hunger, desiccated by thirst, disfigured by the sun. Upon return, taken down into the vast complex below the holy mountain. Transformed physically by the Apothecarium; spiritually by the Reclusiam. Neophytes emerge blinking in the sunlight once more. To begin the often lethal process of becoming a full Battle Brother of the Sauroters Chapter.

Chapter History
26th Founding

  The Sauroters is a Loyalist Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter of Space Marines created in 738.M41 during the 26th Founding. Sauroter means ‘lizard-killer’. The name comes from the Dory used by the ancient Greek Hoplites. The sauroter was the counterweight at the base of the spear, used to deliver the coup de grâce to fallen enemies. An Ultramarines successor chapter, the Sauroters act as an ouragos to their brother chapters the Mentors and the Storm Giants. The Sauroters specialize  in counter-insurgency and asymmetric warfare.

The Four-Armed Emporer
Since the destruction of the Trysst Dynasty on Ghosar Quintus in 680.M41 genestealer infestations have grown in number beyond even the ability of the Deathwatch to contain. This paradigm shift from growing threat to ongoing state of emergency necessitated a permanent countermeasure. Created by secret edict of the High Lords of Terra, under cover of the 26th Founding, the Sauroters are a tacit admission of the shadow at the heart of the Ultima Segmentum.

Notable Campaigns
  Faith in Father (741.M41) As Hive Fleet Behemoth began it’s invasion of the Eastern Galaxy, heralds in the guise of genestealer cults professing ‘Faith in Father’ sprang up across the Ultima Segmentum. Endangering the production of the means to wage war againt the invading Tyranids. The High Lords of Terra tasked the Sauroters with a series of covert urban clearences of the administravtive centers of affected mining worlds.
Vae Victus (88.M42) In the aftermath of the Noctis Aeterna, the Sauroters undertook several major actions against a previoulsy unknown Word Bearers warband. Liberating worlds in the process and carriying out Exterminatus actions to ensure they remained free of the taint of Chaos. Although unable to bring the enemy to a decsisive battle, after attacks on eight worlds the warband seems to have ceased hostilities leaving the Sauroters to claim a phyrric vistory.

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Troops Completed

Originally I had intended to post every week. The idea was to use the blog to keep motivated for the project. As I got into the habit of painting that motivation became intrinsic. Hence no posts for the past four months. There was a lot of painting though.

I have completed all of the troops for my battle-demi company. Just in time for 8th Edition to do away with formations. Nevermind, I’m not bothered about that. I now have all the troops I’ll ever need for a Sauroters Space Marine army:

  • Three tactical squads with magnetized special weapons options
  • One tactical squad with magnetized special weapons and a missile launcher
  • One five man Command Squad with three grav guns a Veteran sergeant with power fist and a Chapter Champion
  • One five man Devastator Squad with magnetized heavy weapons
  • One five man Assault Squad with jump packs

I haven’t based them yet as I am waiting until I complete the 3 HQ choices, so I can do them all at once. All 58 of them. I have purchased some vehicles but I will do them as a separate project. The painting varies slightly from squad to squad but I’d say they’re all a decent tabletop quality and WYSIWYG. En mass they are pretty impressive.

The Plan

hi001693955.jpg
Another missing Primarch?

So, having completed forty models and various parts I am no closer to my goal of a full battle demi company. This is due to the fact that thirty of the the forty are Ultramarines and the 10 Sauroters are not quite up to the standard I want. That said, I have learned how to assemble, model, convert and paint to a standard I am satisfied with so I’m now ready to tackle the project. So I’ve made a plan.

The first step was to buy the models I need. From ebay sellers I purchased four tactical squads. Two Betrayal at Calth sprues, one Burning of Prospero sprues and a MKVII sprue. I also bought an Assualt Squad sprue. That gives me enough models for 3 10-man tactical squads, 2 5-man Devastator Squads, 1 Assault Squad and a 5-man Command Squad. The Command Squad was put together by kitbashing leftovers from the sprues plus 5 sets of legs from my original Ultramarines Devastators.

The next step is to clip all of the parts off the sprues and group them into individual sets. As I have mentioned before, I want to be as WYSIWYG as possible. So, I will also need to supplement the sprues with parts from my bits box. The goal is to have a small baggy for each model containing each of the bits required to build it. For models like sergeants, this will include all of the weapons options. The leftover bits will go into my bits box.

Next I’ll need to clean up all the parts. I have heard several people mention how good the GW seam scraper is. I can use a knife just fine but it is a little dangerous and there is always the possibility of cutting into the miniature so I might get one. I am also going to get some Vallejo plastic putty for gap filling, particularly on the jump packs.

After that comes the modelling. I like to use sub-assemblies so I won’t be fully assembling my miniatures. I’ll be leaving the backpacks, helmets and arms carrying weapons of the bodies. These will be mounted on skewers for undercoating. I’ll also need to do the magnetization at this stage. Arms for the sergeants and hands for the special weapons guys. I’ll also be drilling all the barrels on all the weapons.

Everything will be primed with a Tamiya undercoat. I am planning to preshade the miniatures by first priming from below in black and then from above in grey. If I can keep subsequent layers thin, I should be able to achieve a decent look. Preshading is subtle but really does add something to the finished product if subcequent layers are thin.

Painting will be done in batches. I have noticed that I tend to get frustrated and sloppy if I paint for too long. What should be a hobby becomes a chore. My satisfaction really depends on a good result so I will be painting in small batches of 5 for miniatures and 10 for sub-assemblies. I am going to limit myself to one batch per session and concentrate on getting the best result possible.

The final step will be basing the models. As I mentioned in a previous post I’ll be using a base stamp and green stuff for basing. With the assault marines I’m planning to use transparent acrylic bases with black painted rims. I haven’t decided what color to paint the rims of the plastic bases but it will probably be black or grey. Everything will then be varnished with two coats of Tamiya Flat Clear.

 

 

Base Stamps

I’ve thought a lot about basing. Themed bases look great but when a theme clashes, either with an opposing army or with the terrain, the effect is somewhat spoiled. The classic flock or more contemporary classic rubble bases are fine, if a little uninspiring.

For a while I thought about clear plastic bases and even bought some. But, over time, I expect they’ll get dirty or scratched and the effect will be lost. Also, they would be difficult to attach models too without the glue being obvious. Models that are modeled standing on themed elements (looking at you every HQ choice) have the original problem of clashing with their surroundings.

Also, there is the issue of magnets. Many people use magnetized trays as storage for their miniatures. In a previous post I mentioned using Tupperware to store miniatures. Eventually, when the bases are done, I’d like to add steel washers to the bottom of each base. I could then line the inside of the Tupperware lid with magnetic tape.

So, why not choose a theme and make my own? There are some great tutorials out there and products like textured plasticard give some excellent results. I’ve thought a lot about it and I’ve decided to go with Green Stuff and base stamps.

basius

Wargamesbakery has a range of products they call Basius. Essentially it’s a terrain stamp cast negatively. You press Green Stuff onto a base, wait an hour, then press the slightly cured Green Stuff into the stamp. This gives you the ability to create as many sculpted bases as you want. With a largeish stamp you’ll also have plenty of variety.

sanctuary

For my Sauroters I’ve chosen the Sanctuary base stamp. I am imagining it as a kind of Fortress Monastery theme. I’ll paint the stone in a weathered grey. I am planning to create all the bases at the same time in order to get a consistent look. A nice feature of this stamp is the stairs. This will allow me to mount the miniatures with their feet up on something more securely and still keep to my theme.

For the Genestealer Cult I am thinking of going with an underhive theme. The patriarch comes on a pretty elaborate pipe element. I’d like to do a bunch of weathering on it and then carry that theme through the rest of the bases. I think a monastery theme would compliment that pretty well.

Paints

Vallejo Metal Color.jpg
Image from Amazon.com

One of the more important and expensive choices for the hobbyist is what kind of paints to buy. Back in the day I had some GW paints. I disliked the white rubber tops. I found that the hinge tended to break and the lids became encrusted with dried paint. When I got back into the hobby I discovered that they weren’t the only game in town.

The majority of my paints come from the Vallejo range. I really like the dropper bottles. Not only do they contain more paint than the GW pots, there is less wastage. I can control how much paint I put on my palette easily. For the same reason it’s easier to mix paints too. Also, the dropper design exposes less of the paint to the air, keeping the bottles cleaner and the paint viscous.

Initially I bought a small number of paints. I wanted to be able to paint a full range of colors but not have to buy too much up front. I started with some vauge notion of being able to mix colors from the primaries and did some research. The best guide I found was on theback40k. That site recommended the following as a good (GW) starter set:

  • Blood Red
  • Blazing Orange
  • Sunburst Yellow
  • Snot Green
  • Ice Blue (a light cyan)
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Liche Purple
  • Warlock Purple

Also black and white. I simply used a conversion chart and bought the Vallejo equivalents. I can honestly say that this was a great starter set. But what to add next? Here is what I suggest:

  • Metallics
  • Browns
  • Greys

I quickly added some metallics to my collection, although for smaller scales like 15mm, I’ve read that non-metallic metallics are better. Using grey for steel and yellow for gold etc. I bought the Vallejo Model Air set. It contains:

  • Silver
  • Steel
  • Gold
  • Bright Brass
  • Copper
  • Blue Metal
  • Gun Metal
  • Black Metal

The quality is great although I do recommend using medium rather than water if you want to dilute them. Although, they are very thin paints so you shouldn’t need to thin them much. I really like the Bright Brass and Black Metal colors. I have used them extensively on the Sauroters project.

As for browns and greys, they are just really useful. Especially browns. Used as undercoats they give a lot of variety to the same colors. The greys help you to desaturate colors. This can be aceived with black and white but having greys make consistent mixing easier.

Washes are great too. I’ve heard them described as liquid talent. They certainly help a lot. Black and brown are all you need to start with. You can use other products like oil paint or woodstain to wash miniatures but if you are a beginner I’d recommend acrylic washes.

I also like glazes. They stay on top of a surface, contrary to washes which seep into the recesses. Glazes help blend colors together giving a smoother overall blend. They are not essential but are very useful. It’s worth getting say a green glaze, if you are painting a lot of highlights on a smooth surface, say power armour. Not worth getting if you are a complete beginner. Stick with the washes.

I have tried some of the GW Technical paints. Specifically the Martian earth paint and Lhamian Medium. They are a lot of fun but I don’t have much use for them at present. I may get some if I have a particular project I want then for in the future. Again, probably not worth it for the beginner.

All in all, for the beginner I’d recommend the 10 paint starter set above with a black wash, a brown wash and a steel, bronze and gold metallic. That should cost about 50 Euro in total. Not cheap by any means but about as reasonable as it’s going to get. You should be able to paint just about anything with it.

When I was researching about paints I spent a lot of time thinking about agitators (e.g. the little steel ball in rattle cans). Eventually I settled on glass beads. Once you start using up the paint they become very effective. The sound is also oddly satisfying.

Daiso

daiso

Daiso is a chain store in Japan. One of the various 100¥ shops that are ubiquitous here. While you certainly get what you pay for, the quality is decent enough and they have everything under one roof. When I got back into the hobby I was able to get everything I needed quickly and cheaply. Perfect for someone who doesn’t want to spend a lot, or not sure if they want to yet.

So, what exactly did I get? Well, all the basics:

  • Paintbrushes
  • Glass jars
  • Hobby knife
  • Hobby pliers
  • Hobby files
  • Cutting mat
  • Hand drills
  • Super glue
  • Rattle cans of paint for priming
  • Rattle cans of varnish
  • Plastic baggies
  • Ziploc bags
  • Storage boxes

This meant that the only specialist items I needed were plastic cement and paint. As I learned a little more about painting and modelling I was able to pick up a few more useful items from the same shop:

  • Sanding sticks
  • Makeup sponges
  • Tweezers
  • Masking tape
  • Sheets of cork (for basing)
  • Sandpaper (for urban bases)

A year in I would still buy any of those things, bar a couple, again. I think it’s worth paying for a quality varnish spray, I use Tamiya. I also use Tamiya’s grey primer. It’s better quality than a general purpose rattle can, but the ordinary stuff is perfectly acceptable. The drills were fine but investing in a good quality hobby drill like the GW drill, or an electric drill is a good idea. You also need a good quality hobby knife, I use OLFA brand knives. Other than that, why pay more?

So what’s next? Well, I would like to get a razor saw and mitre box. I would like to build some terrain at some point and I am sure they would come in handy. I’d also like a razor saw for converting. At the moment I use a hobby knife and I just can’t get good straight cuts with it.

Motivation

mr-motivator
A missing Primarch?

How do you stay motivated? Personally a combination of progress and results seems to do the trick for me. Recently I had a real dip in motivation. To the extent that I considered giving up on the whole Sauroters project. I’m not sure why really and it seemed to come out of the blue. That got me thinking.

I tend to do batch painting. I find it quite satisfying as well as a more efficient use of time. I have noticed however, that there is a definite limit to how big batches can be. I have tried painting 10 man squads in batches. I find it takes most of a day to finish. Towards the end it starts to feel like a bit of a chore, rather than a hobby and I tend to make decisions or mistakes that end up reducing my satisfaction with the result.

I also find painting large areas of flat colour very tedious. Consequently, I tend to rush and apply the paint to thickly. Again, this effects the end result. A good example was the Proteus Pattern II missile launchers. They have a deceptively large surface area and I found painting five took a lot longer than I expected. I was really trying to just finish the last couple, add a wash and call it a day. When I came back the next day, to do the highlights, I found the finish was patchy and I had missed some spots altogether.

Although, to date I have completed over thirty Space Marines, only 10 of them are Sauroters. Plus, I am not intending to include that squad in my Demi Company, mainly because they are not quite up to the standard that I want. This means that I haven’t made much progress towards my goal. I think this was responsible for the dip in my motivation.

My current feeling is that the painting I have done up to now was really just learning how to model, paint, convert etc. I am now ready to complete the project to a standard I am happy with. So, I’m feeling motivated again. I think in my personal case there seems to be a sudden hump to get over in any of the projects I do. Once I push through it I’m fine again.

Due to the sudden fall of Sterling I have been able to order most of what I need in one go. From various ebay sellers I have ordered 2 Betrayal at Calth sprues, 1 Burning of Prospero Sprue and one box of five Assault Marines. That gives me enough models to create 1 10 man Devastator Squad, three Tactical Squads and one Assault Squad. I also have a Librarian, a Tech Marine and an Apothecary. I want to replace my Chaplain and add a Captain.

The plan is to clip everything of the sprues and clean them up. Then assemble everything into sub assemblies and prime them all together. Then I’ll batch paint everything in groups of five until they’re all done. Rather than batch paint models I’ll batch  paint elements. I’ll do all the backpacks, then helmets, then weapons etc. That way I should be able to get a really consistent look and stay motivated. Personally doing a bunch of backpacks isn’t boring as long as I’m making progress and the finish is good. I’m really looking forward to it.