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Trenchmates – Canticles of Redemption – A Background by Tim Chant

10/25/2012 10 comments

Today we hear from a good friend and regular opponent of mine. Tim’s been working on the background to his marine chapter for a very long time and as you will see, it most definitely shows! As well as detailing his chapter’s history Tim has also provided a gallery of his boys in action as well as a piece where he discusses his inspiration and aspirations for the future of his army.

The Reavers Redemptor

Founding

The Reavers Redemptor came about as a result of an series of administrative errors and misunderstandings in M40, when as part of a small Founding the newly created Emperor’s Reavers were given a homeworld in the far Galactic North, on the border between the Segmenta Obscurus and Ultima. None realised, when the Chapter Fortress was raised upon the world of Nagol’s End to watch East into the Ghoul Stars and defend the Forgeworlds and agrarian colonies of region, that they were trespassing in the protectorate of a much older Chapter – the Crusaders Redemptor.

The name of the official responsible is lost to history, but it is thought to be the same clerk who became known as the Great Disruptor, whose almost heretical incompetence only came to an end when he was demoted to a Filing Servitor.

Little is known of the history of the Crusaders. Their own legends maintain a provenance in the Second Founding, of Ultramarine genestock. A Chapter noted for little more than its perhaps overly strict adherence to the Codex Astartes, it had quietly and competently maintained its watch in the area from its homeworld of Knassos V, with such little incident that Terra had forgotten its very existence.

The Knassos and Nagol systems are scant lightyears apart, so it did not take long for the Crusaders Redemptor to discover the trespassers (as they saw them) in their sector. Not only that, but the Emperor’s Reavers had already begun requiring the fealty of local systems to augment their stocks of munitions, vehicles and ships.

Relations between the two Chapters were cool but cordial to begin with. Excursions of nameless horrors from the Ghoul Stars, an incursion of Dark Eldar pirates and a marauding World Eater war band kept the two busy for a few centuries. Indeed, Crusader and Reaver Companies occasionally fought side-by-side to great effect.

This changed in mid-M41 with the accession of Mordecai Klaass to the position of Chapter Master of the Emperor’s Reavers. Young (a mere century and a half), Klaass had been Captain of the 5th Company and an unlikely candidate for Chapter Master – he rose to the position by dint of being the first to the side of the previous Master as he died, his body racked by a Dark Eldar neurotoxin. His feat in rescuing his predecessors body, armour and weapons from the vile Xenos propelled him into the position.

Unfortunately, it rapidly became apparent that he was not ready to command an entire Chapter. Impatient and reckless, he had become frustrated by the Crusaders’ cautious, methodical approach to warfare. Maintaining personal command of his company despite his weightier responsibilities, he came into conflict with the Crusaders when working with Captain Nuremberg of their 2nd Company. Believing them to be missing an opportunity to crush the same Dark Eldar raiders who had killed his beloved mentor, he rushed the Raiders along with his acolyte Sergeant Tann Hauser and the bike squads for which 3rd Company was famous. He ran straight into and wrecked the careful ambush the Crusaders had set, using a unit of the 57th Menasan Armoured Infantry as bait. In the ensuing firefight, the Xenos slipped away, the Guard suffered horrendous casualties and, at the height of the fighting, the Crusaders and Reavers began exchanging fire.

Tensions over the resources in the area and the differing doctrines of the two Chapters came to a head after this unfortunate incident. A conclave between Chapter Masters on the Forgeworld of Kadesh ended in violence, from which Nuremberg barely escaped with his life thanks to Hauser’s intervention.

For the next two centuries, the two Chapters fought whenever they came into contact. At first it was minor skirmishes, almost honour bouts that did not interfere with their normal duties, but as the divisions deepened the violence became lethal until the Chapters were embroiled in full scale warfare that consumed their entire attention. The focus of the fighting was Kadesh, both chapters seeing the resources and manufactorums as being their right and the key to victory. It became so intense that much of the world was devastated in the full-scale battles between the full strength of the Chapters.

It was the resultant drop off in productivity from Kadesh that brought a resolution of sorts. Noticing the reduction in war materiel from the planet flowing to the arsenals of the Guard, the enigmatic and extremely reclusive Inquisitor Cliranda Montague journeyed to the sector with her entourage. Expecting Xenos interference, sedition or the influence of the Ruinous Powers, what she found disturbed her deeply – brother Marines who had been at war with each other so long they had forgotten their duty to the God Emperor. Indeed, the violence had been so extreme and the war so long that each Chapter could muster barely five hundred warriors apiece.

Montague knew this could be tolerated no longer. While her extensive entourage worked on assessing the extent of the war and infiltrating the alliances each Chapter had built up with planetary governors and even some Guard Regiments, Montague and her closest followers travelled to Maccrage to enlist the aid of Marneus Calgar and the Ultramarines.

The Lord of the Ultramarines took some persuading. Despite having access to some of the most extensive records in the Imperium, his sages could find little record of the Crusaders and certainly no record of them being Primogenitors of his own Chapter. The intensity of Montague’s representation, and the fact that she took the unprecedented step of meeting with him in person rather than through proxies, eventually piqued Calgar’s interest and he travelled with his 2nd Company to the Kadesh system.

Within days of his arrival in the sector, he had brought peace between the two Chapters. His towering rage, force of personality and the backing of some of the finest warriors in the Imperium soon brought the warring brothers to the table. Once again in conclave on the ravished planet of Kadesh, Chapter Masters Klaass and Hieronimo Trent of the Crusaders were offered a stark choice – put aside their differences, or face censure and destruction at the hands of the Ultramarines and other chapters. To ensure the situation never occurred again, Calgar and Montague made a simple decree – the two understrength Chapters were to become on. The Crusaders Redemptor and Emperor’s Reavers would become the Reavers Redemptor. Montague’s investigations had thrown up the surprising fact that the Crusaders’ genestock was actually that of the White Scars, as was that of the Reavers. The two Chapters were fully compatible.

Wearied by an internecine war he had never sought, Trent agreed to the proposals, although many in the Chapter reacted in anger, not least at the suggestion that their long-held belief in their provenance was indeed false. Only Trent’s wisdom and the loyalty he had earned brought the remnant of his Chapter into line.

Klaass reacted with anger and predictable violence. While Calgar was absent, he attempted to bring the war to a conclusion that suited him better by striking at both Trent and the assembled Reavers as they gathered for the final ceremonies of the peace treaty.

Only the intercession of Tann Hauser, now Captain of the Reavers’ 3rd Company, prevented this vile stroke from falling. Realising the folly of Klaass’ actions and that, rather than accepting the presented victory, Calgar would destroy the Reavers, Hauser informed Trent of the attack. Recognising in Hauser an honest Marine as wearied by the war as he was, Trent acknowledged the warning and personally intercepted Klaass and his Honour Guard. Deep in the Great Ash Basin of Kadesh, the two Chapter Masters met and fought for the last time. Despite the fact that by then both men were several centuries old, the struggle was epic, lasting almost seven days and changing the very terrain they fought on. On the third day, Calgar arrived and, recognising the necessity of his grudge being settled, chose to adjudicate rather than interfere.

At the start of the seventh day, Klaass finally made a rash error, letting his guard down briefly and allowing Trent to strike a might blow with his power sword, mortally wounding his opponent.

Trent decreed an end to the fighting and acknowledged the wisdom of Calgar’s plan. Himself wounded beyond recovery, his made each and every one of his four hundred and ninety one surviving Battle Brothers swear that no rancour would remain in their hearts towards their new Brothers. Calgar himself took the personal oaths of the surviving Reavers, beginning with Hauser. The war was over, and out of the crucible of fire and bloodshed the Reavers Redemptor were forged.

Homeworld

The new Chapter was allowed to retain the Fortress Monasteries on both Nagol’s End and Knassos V, but purely as recruiting centres.

Nagol’s End is a wild world of high mountains and broad, windswept planes. The semi-barbarous people exist amongst the ruins of the early colony, which collapsed into anarchy during Old Night. Even millennia later, the inhabitants are able to salvage workable technology from the fallen cities, as well as artefacts they trade with offworlders for what they require. The largest import to the planet are vehicles, bikes in particular, and munitions, for the people of Nagol’s End are either at war with each other or preparing for war. The world revolves around a few permanent Holdings, governed by those who are strong and ruthless enough to maintain their position, built to take advantage of the vast road network of the old colony. These long, broad avenues were laid with a material that remains a mystery to Techmarine and savant alike, and has not decayed despite not being maintained since before Old Night. A nomadic culture exists upon the network, one that survives on warfare and trade and favours those who are able to move and fight at speed. Those who form this culture are known as Blacktoppers, and are particularly favoured by the Astartes recruiters.

In contrast, Knassos V is a world that has maintained a more civilised aspect. Founded during the Great Crusade, it is a pre-eminent centre of art and learning whose burgeoning population relies on the surrounding worlds for food and industrial output. Governorship, though invested in the Reavers Redemptor, is maintained though consensus with the city-states that make up the society. The Marines drawn from its gleaming spires and sprawling suburbs tend to be Knassans who, at an early age, have demonstrated both intellectual excellence and rigour in the pursuit of the classic sports of wrestling, pugilism and athletics.

Calgar and Montague, however, declared that the new Chapter’s Homeworld would be Kadesh, and the semi-derelict Great Port in orbit over the planet was given to them as their new Fortress Monastery. As the war between the Marines had ravished Kadesh, so would the joining between them rebuild it. The Reavers have thrown themselves into their newfound duties, restoring the great hives of the night-bound world, rebuilding the transport network and re-engaging the ancient Manufactora. Like Nagol’s End, Kadesh was founded before the Age of Strife and managed to maintain order and a structured society in the intervening period. Like many Forgeworlds, Kadesh’s environment has long since been poisoned by the effluent of human industry, and the sky has been so burnt that no natural light penetrates the cloud cover. It is never anything more than twilight on Kadesh. Its people are stoic, accustomed to suffering even before the War Between the Chapters, and hardened by their environment. Despite the bitterness left behind by the conflict, the Reavers have begun recruiting on Kadesh. Some Kadeshians take pride in becoming Reavers Redemptor, going from a reborn world to a reborn Chapter, and are often greatly valued as potential Techmarines and tank crew.

Combat Doctrine

In combat, the Reavers Redemptor have combined the studious, Codex-based approach of the former Crusaders with the wild, fluid warfare of the Emperor’s Reavers to great effect. The Crusaders were the masters of careful ambush, surgical orbital strike and well thought-out defensive lines. The Emperor’s Reavers specialised in raiding deep behind enemy lines, often relying on Bikes, Razorbacks and Rhinos, and lightning strikes to decapitate enemy forces. With the added element of the Kadeshian’s native affinity for heavy armour, the Reavers Redemptor have formulated a devastating style of warfare involving targeted Drop Pod and teleport assaults to form redoubts that are then linked up by armoured columns spearheaded and covered by the waves of Blacktoppher bikers. Few can stand against such a devastating combination. In defence, the Reavers utilise heavy firepower in gunlines to break up enemy formations, which are then shattered by Bike countercharges and Drop Pod deployments in the enemy’s rear areas.

This doctrine is enunciated in The Canticles of Redemption. Begun by Chapter Master Trent and continued by his successor Elizias Cutter, formerly Captain of the Crusaders Redemptor’s 1st Company, it contains reflections on combat doctrines to be employed against a variety of foes. Most recently, and tragically, this has included contemplation on the suppression of rebellious Imperial Guard Regiments, as well as countering the raiding of the Xenos filth known as the ‘Dark’ Eldar.

Force Organisation

The Reavers Redemptor. Despite its odd lineage, maintains a reasonably close adherence to the Codex Astartes. Still commanded by Elizias Cutter, it maintains a standard ten-company structure. Few companies are drawn exclusively from a single word, a deliberate tactic to ensure full integration, although recruits from a particular world will tend to gravitate towards the company that best expresses their personal ethos.

The soul deviations from this rule, in terms of organisation, are the 2nd and 3rd Companies. 2nd Company (Captain Rikkard Nuremberg), although commanded by a Knossan, contains a great many Marines of Kadeshian origin and tends to employ a greater number of heavy vehicles than the other companies. At the other end of the scale, 3rd Company is still commanded by Captain Tann Hauser and contains a great many Blacktoppers. Of all of the battle companies, the 3rd is pre-eminent in its use of mounted assault. Despite their differing backgrounds and the fact they often fought against each other, Hauser and Nuremberg are now fast friends and often co-operate to great effect.

The Chapter’s heraldry does reflect its unusual heritage. The Crusaders wore a universally dark green armour and the Emperor’s Reavers’ a dark rust-red. The two colour schemes were combined, with a standard scheme of a red torso and upper legs and green lower legs and torso, company colour on the trim of the shoulder pads and squad designator on the knee pads. The Veterans were allowed the honour of deciding whether to maintain the heraldry of their original chapters, with veterancy denoted by a silver helmet or laurels. Captain Hauser maintained the right for his troops to wear the company colour, a deep burnished gold, in their helmets as well as shoulder pads, maintaining the tradition of the tribe of Blacktoppers he was recruited from.

The Reavers are also one of a handful of chapters to have the dubious honour of having a single squad of Ultramarine veterans attached to them on a rotating basis. Currently Sternguard Squad Apothes has been assigned to the Chapter.

Beliefs

The Reavers Redemptor have found a new devotion to the Imperial Creed, in particular those elements that focus on redemption through struggle and suffering. They have extended their enforcement of a particularly militant interpretation of the Creed to other elements of the Imperial apparatus in their ever-increasing sphere of operations. This has led them into conflict with at least two Imperial Guard Regiments they regard as being rebellious, if not heretical. They have skirmished with elements of the 57th Menasan Armoured Infantry to the Galactic West of their operational zone and fought two full-scale wars with the Genovasian 4th Equatorial, from the Dasop Sector not far from the Reavers’ sphere of influence. The first of these conflicts was precipitated by a Radical Inquisitor, something the Reavers find to be anathema. The second is on-going at the end of M41, triggered by Ecclesiarchal interference with a world recently brought into the Reavers’ domain. To the Reavers, this is tantamount to Heresy, leading some to question whether the entire organ of the Ecclesiarchy has become corrupted.

Inquisitor Montague, through her followers, has maintained close links with the Chapter, both to monitor them and to harness their newfound fervous when her investigations require the most extreme and direct sanction.

Significant/Defining Moment

The fight between Trent and Klaass is seen by many as the pivotal moment in the Chapter’s unhappy history. Indeed, many of the current Reavers lived through the war and the reconciliation. To remind the next generations of the dangers of quarrelling with their brothers, the gruelling Ritual of Dust that new initiates undergo in the arid Dust Plains of Kadesh is focused on the Valley of the Masters. Here the titanic battle actually carved a new topography into the surface of the planet which now stands as mute testament to their struggle.

This moment also gave birth to the Chapter’s darkest secret and greatest shame. Not all of the Battle Brothers of either founding chapter swore the oaths either to Trent or Calgar, and some who did recanted them. These apostates fled the fold of the new Chapter. Some renounced their oaths of loyalty to the Emperor entirely, becoming renegade and Traitor. Ironically, renegade Crusaders and Reavers have found themselves forced to form war bands together to survive. Others, either as individuals or squads, maintain that they are loyal to the Emperor but refuse to accept the authority of the new Chapter. Although most still fight on, as they can, against the enemies of the Imperium, their isolation has driven them all increasingly towards a precipice they cannot return from. Hauser and Nuremberg, between them, have sworn a solemn oath to bring the renegades to justice and attempt to redeem the recidivists.

Battle Cry

‘Imperator Redentor!’ – Emperor the redeemer. Few Chapters feel as much need to seek redemption for past misdeeds and errings.

Geneseed

White Scar stock. The Crusaders Redemptor, although an ancient chapter, are not of the Second Founding or indeed a Primogenitor of the Ultramarines. Their geneseed was drawn from a Primogenitor of the White Scars in the Third Founding. Through the beneficence of the God Emperor, the Emperors’ Reavers geneseed was drawn from the same Chapter, albeit eight thousand years later. There is some debate as to how the geneseed of a wild chapter like the White Scars could have given rise to the strictly doctrinal Crusaders Redemptor. Some even whisper that the original geneseed of the Crusaders had been interfered with in an attempt to abate the wild streak. A few daring or mad souls even suggest that the Crusaders were in fact drawn from Ultramarine stock, and that the Inquisitor Montague lied to all and committed the heresy of combining the geneseed of different lines. Some say it was for pragmatic reasons, others that her motivations were entirely more… radical.

There is little doubt that the combination of the genestocks has led to the Chapter returning to the character of its roots, albeit tempered by the clinical nature of the old Crusaders.

Gallery

Above and below: Captain Tann Hauser leads his bike command squad in pursuit of fleeing Genovasian Imperial Guardsmen during the Bugham’s World Incident.

Brother Reddick supports Terminator Squad Antigor in clearing mysterious ruins on Cribdis, on the outer edge of the Ghoul Stars Cluster.

Tactical Squad Kollan, 2nd Company, deploy from their drop pod into the ruins of the Ork-infested City of Emperor’s Grace during the Purging of Kallandros.

Reavers Redemptor – Writing the fluff and designing the livery

Believe it or not, the original plan for the Reavers Redemptor was to have them in a very light blue and plum red colour scheme (something which horrified my flatmate [Elizabeth Corbett of Sexism in The Warhammer Worlds fame, who does accept commissions if anyone’s interested], who was doomed to paint them). Luckily, I took a trip to the Highlands in autumn and was deeply struck by the combinations of red and green as the trees lost their leaves. A chat with a member of staff in my local GW store and further discussions with the aforementioned flatmate led to the colour scheme, which is built up by (in old money):

  • White undercoat
  • Base of Mechrite Red on torso, upper legs and arms; base of Orkhide Shade on shoulder pads, gloves and shins/boots
  • Washes of Baal Red and Thrakka Green
  • Dry brush of Tin Bitz over the red.

Because I like a bit of variety and Elizabeth didn’t want to get bored painting, there are variations on the theme. Vehicles alternate the blocks of colours, and elite units are either entirely red or entirely green. I haven’t got round to working out how to do the scheme with the new paints. Thankfully, the bulk of the army (entire 2nd Battle Company plus 1st and 3rd Company elements) have already been painted by Elizabeth. Including the mention of Ultramarines will allow me to field the squad of Tyranid Hunters my partner’s brother kindly gave to me, and I’m very tempted to throw in the occasional squad of other Codex Chapters (alongside the small Dark Angel and Space Wolf armies I’m putting together).

Next up I have a few Dreads, a couple of Land Raiders, more Bikes….

As to the background, I have such a large selection at my disposal I like to vary my force composition and tactics (to keep my opponents guessing). I also wanted to give the Chapter a bit of the feel of being right on the edge and being drawn back into the fold – and, let’s face it, I enjoy writing and wanted to come up with something quite interesting. The background I’ve created gives a story to the different styles of play I enjoy. The relationship between the Reavers and Inquisitor Montague, and the situation with the renegades, is also something I’m looking forward to developing through my own writing and the games of Dark Heresy I run.

Many thanks to Tim for this fantastic insight into one of the False Emperor’s armies of lapdogs. Sorry, I came over all Chaosy. However on that subject I’d like to add that Tim and I have tied the backstory of the Reavers to those of my Imperial Guard (The 57th Menasan Armoured Infantry), Dark Eldar (Kabal of The Sundered Heart) and Chaos Space Marine (The Heralds of Desolation) of which more will be detailed very soon.

If you’d like to contribute an article all the information you need can be found here.

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Modular Trenches for 40K Confirmed?

10/24/2012 4 comments

It looks like modular trenches are indeed on their way if this apparent picture from new White Dwarf is anything to go by.

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I think I know what I’ll be asking Santa for this Christmas 🙂

Trenchmates – Sexism in The Warhammer Worlds: Part 2

10/21/2012 7 comments

Well, what an interesting four days it has been! My friend Elizabeth’s post has generated a huge response from the online wargaming community, much of it constructive and, I am very pleased to say, almost all of it has been mature, dignified and respectful.

Indeed, one of the reasons I started the Trenchmates feature was to encourage reasoned debate surrounding the hobby both as comments via my blog or the features embedded in my Facebook and Google Plus profiles. It was on the latter that I received several pieces of correspondence from a João Rita from Portugal. He was certainly passionate about the subject as you can see from his comments and I asked him if he would like to write a response to Elizabeth’s article for the blog.

Here it is:

After commenting, on G+, on Ms Corbett  article, I’ve been challenged to reply here. In the immortal words of Barney Stintson “Challenge accepted!”

First of all, the main point that bugged me: the sentences right at the start “I don’t wargame. I’ve never been tempted by it”. So, we have an article about wargames, written by someone who doesn’t wargame. This, in my experience, never ends well, quite the opposite (at least in relation to wargames).

Second, the “sexist” charge. Right out I’ll say: “Yes, the basis of the game has sexism in it”. It’s inevitable. Warhammer is based on a magic/medieval Europe, and the simple fact is that this is, inherently, a sexist background. Knights, mercenaries, warrior heroes… all of these (or at least 99%) were, like it or not, male. As for Warhammer 40k, it’s armies were developed around the mid-80s, clearly based on the UK and US armies of the day. How many women were there in front line troops at the time? None. But over time, things have changed in the real world. And, while GW has done some changes, it has been slow to do so because, let’s face it, the majority of it’s fan base is male. So, male minis are predominant. Which hasn’t stopped quite a few girls/women from playing. And GW is changing, slowly but steadily. I doubt that the Fantasy part will change much (women pikemen? heavy cavalry? no real setting for that) but, in 40k, the number of female charaters in the novels has been increasing steadily. Two of the alien races (Eldar and Dark Eldar) have females in their line troops (as opposed to dedicated “amazon” units). And there are a lot of people talking about this (female AND male) so I’m betting we’ll see females in w40k troops sometime in the future (just not in the Space Marines…). Besides… under all that body armour & helmet & backpacks, how do we know that half that infantry squad isn’t female?

Third… the models. Well, seen simply as the models themselves, yes they do seem sexist. BUT… the afore-mentioned Sisters Repentia are simply w40k’s version of medival Europe flagellants: half-naked fanatics who would roam the fields hitting themselves with sticks and whips, as penance for their sins. And these women HAVE fallen from grace: they are Sisters of Mercy who have been found wanting in their duties to their god-emperor. Hence, the extreme penance of going to battle with no armour. Warhammer Fantasy has a similar unit, the Empire’s Flagellants, fanatics who charge into battle half-naked, screaming “Repent!” (btw, this unit is all-male. sexism?). The elfs? Well, for that, one has to blame D&D and Tolkien! Seriously, does anyone know any Fantasy setting in which elfs don’t dress somewhat similar to that? I don’t… and that Dark Elf is a “Sorceresses of the Dark Covenant”. With a tittle like that, and a member of a race that relishes in torture, mayhem and deprivation, I’d be very surprised if she wore anything else…

Ms. Corbett is, apparently, a roleplayer. If so, I’m sure that 5mn perusing pretty much any RPG rulebook will turn up examples of sexism: anything from D&D, Vampire, Cyberpunk… all have scantly-clad female heroes…

So… is Warhammer sexist? Depends. The entire wargame/RPG hobby has sexist roots, but that doesn’t stop women from playing. In the end, it’s the players that make a game this-or-that: if your opponent is sexist, he won’t change no matter what minis he has, and when plays vs a girl he’ll probably make a fool of himself. If he isn’t, then he won’t even care about the sex of the mini (or of the opponent).

After I received this on Thursday I contacted Elizabeth and asked her if she would like to write a response to this as is her right of reply. Here is what she sent me:

Okay, addressing João’s points:

1. Whilst I appreciate that starting something by saying “I don’t actually do this” isn’t that great a beginning, I basically wanted to cover myself from people going “but what about obscure facts A, B and C? Why didn’t you take them into consideration?”. But one does not have to be an aficionado of something to have an opinion about it. It would have been disingenuous of me not to disclose that I know less than a wargamer does. I still know more than most people because of my roleplaying experience in the game worlds, and being (frequently unwillingly) lectured on the models, rules and fluff.

2. The idea that the armies are based on real-world armies is not one I am qualified to discuss. I will point out that women have served in battle on or off the front lines for thousands of years, usually unofficially (in disguise), but more than one culture has had all-female regiments at various times in history, and there has been integration into the army for several decades now in most Western countries.

I made this point in the article, but I’ll make it again: this is not a game based in reality. It is fantasy. The games designers were free to include women in heavy cavalry units or in Terminator armour if they chose to do so. They did not. Games Workshop have not addressed this (Eldar aside).

Also, you’re right that they could be any gender underneath the massive power armour they wear. The ones without helmets though? They’re all male. The power armour is an exaggerated male shape. When I look at them, I see tiny men, because that’s the way they were designed to be seen. That’s problematic.

3. Flagellants historically were monks who flogged themselves in their cells, not on the field of battle. The idea has been taken from history but is not being used in a historically accurate fashion. The church also issued an edict against them after a while; too many of them were dying.

Tolkein, for all his faults, made no mention of naked female elves. All of his elves were fully clothed. He in fact made very little mention of nudity at all. Even the story of Turin Turambar only has one instance of human female nudity, and there (SPOILER ALERT) is one amnesia episode and three guilt-ridden descents into madness.

I’m not arguing that the fantasy genre as a whole is better than GW at avoiding these clichés. I in fact deliberately didn’t mention it, because I didn’t see it as relevant to my argument. The genre as a whole being sexist as all hell is not a reason for GW to be sexist as all hell as well; it’s an excuse. I feel the same way about fantasy in general, do not get me started on Gears of War, and I can take all sides of the Tolkein debate by myself (and in fact have been known to do so when drunk). I also get angry at sexism in magazines, on television, in journalism, on the street, in Exalted, and in Jane Austen. Sexism is bad. Gender stereotyping is bad for men as well as women. It limits the way men behave, think, play and dress just as much as it limits the way women behave, think, play and dress.

Everything in the last paragraph, though, I agree with, except I would replace “depends” with “yes”. Thing is, it’s perfectly possible to play and enjoy something which you know is sexist (and racist, and homophobic). I do it all the time. Literally. But I feel really strongly that we should be aware of the faults of the things we love, as well as their strengths. Just because the game is sexist and racist doesn’t mean everyone who plays it is, or is complicit in it, or that everyone should stop playing it. It just means there’s a caveat: Beware of the sexisms. Here be racisms. Cave homophobia.

Thank you to both João and Elizabeth for taking their time to write to me. I think no matter how you feel about these issue, they are of paramount importance, especially if we want our hobby to be more broadly accepted.

As always, please feel free to leave your comments in the usual manner but please remember to be respectful.

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Project Wirewolf

10/19/2012 Leave a comment

Today I was pondering all things Chaos and, in particular, how best to represent my Chaos Space Marine Lord’s Combat Familiar on the tabletop.

Luckily I’m also re-reading Dan Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghosts novels and have recently finished Traitor General which I think is (thus far) the best book in the series.

In this novel, the reader is introduced to the horrific Wirewolves, daemonic creatures that are activated when the population of the occupied planet of Gereon get too rowdy (or when daring Colonel-Commissars decide to take matters into their own hands).

These creatures are best described as inactive life sized human shaped metal forms which hang on gibbets. When they activate, bright warp energy fills their form, the drop to the ground and, well, you really don’t want to be anywhere near them.

Unless of course you’re a female surgeon with a heart-shaped face, but I digress.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I quite fancy making a few of these for my Chaos Marine army and, as a trial, I’m going to make the first to represent my lord’s Combat Familiar.

The plan is to make a wire frame before filling it out with Green Stuff which will represent the warp energy. Next I’ll overlay this with more metal wire to form the creature’s corporeal body.

Below is a very rudimentary sketch of what I hope the frame will look like.

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Here’s hoping I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew…

Trenchmates – Sexism in the Warhammer Worlds

10/17/2012 18 comments

This edition of Trenchmates is written by my good friend Elizabeth Corbett (@lizbth_geeks for you Twitter folk). While she’s not a wargamer per se she does paint a mean miniature and is a dedicated roleplayer. Today she’s writing on a subject close to her heart, I’ll leave the rest to her.

I don’t wargame. I’ve never been tempted by it. I like playing games, and I like playing boardgames, and I’ve enjoyed playing WFRP and Dark Heresy, and I’ve even enjoyed playing Space Hulk before – but I don’t field armies on tabletop battlefields, and I don’t think I ever will. It’s not my thing. I don’t like turn-based strategy games on the PC either.

Why am I starting a guest post on a wargaming blog saying I don’t play it? Because I do paint miniatures, and I know a reasonable bit about the background, and I wanted all the readers to understand where I’m coming from before I launch into the real purpose of my writing:

I think Warhammer Fantasy and 40K really need to address the sexism in their games, and I’d like to see more people understand my position. Who knows, it might even encourage more women to play. This sexism can be seen in the miniatures, both historical and current, in the literature surrounding the games, and in the way the games are marketed.

The miniatures tend towards making the women more naked than their male counterparts. Even the otherwise heavily-armed and armoured Sisters of Battle have the Sisters Repentia, walking into battle clothed only in rags “to atone for their crimes”. One the one hand, the miniatures have to be readily recognisable on a battlefield with perhaps a couple of hundred models, and exaggerating secondary sexual characteristics of women is a way to do it; on the other hand, they don’t have to be mostly naked: that was a deliberate choice made by someone. Compare these three female spellcasters from Warhammer Fantasy, one each of the three elven races, to their male equivalents.

High Elves

Wood Elves

Dark Elves

The High Elf is recognisable as female but is at least as fully clothed as her male counterparts. The Wood Elf is less clothed than her male counterpart, although in fairness still wearing more than the War Dancers (the only nearly-naked male figures I have ever seen in this game). The Dark Elf… okay, that was a Finecast, let’s look at the normal model…

Nope, not wearing much at all, is she? Really quite naked, one might say. (Another short rant: I had to compare spellcasters, because they’re the only class which consistently has women. Apparently we’re allowed to cast fireballs from our hands, but not use a morning star.)

Someone, somewhere, made a deliberate choice to make naked women a feature of this game. Leaving aside the impracticalities of being naked on a battlefield, with arrows and swords (or guns and swords), not to mention inclement weather, I would be fine with this if the men were naked too. But they’re not, as a rule. They wear clothes. They don’t have vines artistically draped over one pec and swirling around their thigh.

This implies an expectation of their audience: that the people who play this game will want to see tiny naked women but not tiny naked men. It implies the audience is male, and straight. Statistically, I’m sure the latter is mostly true, but the former implication is part of the thing that keeps women out of the games; when we are only presented as highly-sexualised afterthoughts, we don’t really want to get involved.

And afterthought is a good way to describe the women in these games, which are disproportionately made up of male figures. Okay, in Fantasy, the time period suggests that most women wouldn’t be fighters in the Empire or whatever. But it’s fantasy. The clue’s right there in the name. Even the Elven races, much more classically feminine in style and lines, have many more male units than female. Why? Why does this have to be the case? In 40K, even the “women didn’t fight then” argument falls down. You’re honestly going to tell me that in the dawn of the 41st millennium, with all the technological advances implicit in the game, women are still only allowed to fight if they’re traumatised and indoctrinated orphaned girls? You’re going to tell me that the Space Marine gene cluster only works with a Y-chromosome?

These are choices which the game designers made, and they are choices repeated over six editions of the game. Coming up with a handy backstory to explain why there are no women does not make it any less sexist; if anything, it means that more people have been dragged into being apologists. Similarly, introducing armies like the Sisters of Battle, where they are almost entirely female, just makes it more obvious that the rest of the armies have little to no women in them. It’s the equivalent of saying “I’m not sexist/racist/homophobic, I have female/coloured/gay friends”. If you feel the need to make a big thing about it, your point is already lost.

For me, the worst thing about this whole business isn’t that it makes these games all-male environments where women are tolerated rather than welcomed, as bad as that is. The worst thing is what it does to the children, who are too young to know how to compartmentalise or analyse. Whenever I go into Games Workshop, I see kids. Kids playing and having fun, interacting with adults on an even footing, which is great to see. Mostly boys, but that’s as much symptomatic of the culture which says girls should play with dolls and boys should play with guns as anything else. These little boys are seeing that women are excluded from battle, both on and around the table. They are painting little women who have one tit hanging out and a loincloth whipping over their thighs. They are learning to treat us as irrelevant objects.

I don’t expect Games Workshop to single-handedly change the culture which says to little girls that they can’t like maths and violence, but I can expect them to make their games much better balanced and representative. And I can definitely expect grown men reading this blog to think, just for a second, about how this all looks to a woman, or to a girl. Your hobby could include twice as many people. That’s double the battles! I know that for a lot of people, this is about creating a space outside of their partners and families, and I understand the appeal of tribalism, but you can have this and not exclude all women.

So how could you as a player make a difference? You could mod your armies a little. It doesn’t even need to be much, the armour most of the little people are wearing covers pretty much all detail; you just need to write it into your backgrounds, assuming you do them. The Dark Eldar kits come with male and female heads separate to torsos; they could be added to any elf, with a little bit of extra effort. The Sisters of Battle could be modded and thrown in to a Marine unit, or an Imperial Guard unit. In fact, I’ll even do it for you, if you pay me (I accept any currency, or wine). This hobby encourages creativity and personalisation of your armies. Think outside of the sprues. Encourage your opponents to do the same. Take your non-sexist armies to tournaments. You don’t have to stand and lecture everyone on the evils of the patriarchy and whether all sex is rape; you just have to turn up, with a representative army, play your games, and leave at the end of the day. It shouldn’t be a big thing to have women in your army. It shouldn’t be a big thing to be a woman playing the game.

This whole rant could just as easily have been written from a race-sensitivity point of view as well. Take a look through the books; it’s very hard to find non-white faces. Again, anything which apologises for it is just excusing racism, not addressing the problem.

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10/09/2012 1 comment

For all you chaps and chapesses in the Edinburgh area.

I really should get myself along, especially seeing as I only live a 30 minute walk away!

ELG

The new Events Co-ordinator has been ‘sworn in’ and has a cut-throat crew of helpers. We’re having a wee meeting tomorrow night to determine the direction of internal campaigns, hosting tournament, and generally plotting other events for your delectation.

So far there are some stalwart tournaments with Forgotten Heroes (WFB) again in 2013, Counter-Attack! (40k) making a comeback and internally we’ll see more Blood Bowl leagues & cups, along with a Tale of Gamers (WFB). Warmachine/Hordes will be represented, but in what formats? (A return of the September Smash tournament is highly likely.) We will most definately reprise the boardgames night – possibly twice. And there are some noises about The Lord of the Rings (finally!).

This is where we need you.

It’s your club, so what do you want to run (or want to be run?): campaigns, tournaments, or events… simply email events [at] elgamers [dot] org and let…

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Categories: Uncategorized

Fluff and the art of writing army lists

10/09/2012 1 comment

Over on The Mossop there’s an interesting article about balancing fluff and competitive army lists, you can read it here.

I definitely lean towards the latter category, and not just because I have the tactical nous of soggy toast…

Categories: General