Saturday, December 31, 2011

Federal Army Medium Tank First Look

Here's a preview of the upcoming Federal Army Medium Tank, both in basic tracked version and in grav drive as part of the Army's MEP (Mobility Enhancement Program). 

As can be seen it mounts a single CIDS gatling cannon, unlike the Siler superheavy tank, which mounts two.  The vehicle also has a coaxial light pulse cannon to cover any frontal blind spots that the gatling cannon might not be able to reach.

One thing that might not be readily apparent from the images is the manner in which the main gun mounts to the turret -- it is very deeply recessed.  This can elevate to "show it off" a bit more -- it creates in our opinion a very striking appearance.  We might have the entire cannon piece painted in a slightly different colour when the physical model is previewed, just to make this design feature a bit more obvious.

Hull is 75mm long -- actually just a little bit smaller than the hull of an M1A2 at 1/100th scale! There will be a heavy APC version as well.  Look for it in the spring of 2012.  Thanks and have a Happy New Years.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Huntarr

We have released the 15mm scale Huntarr, those terrifying hunters who revel in combat and victory above all else, and will travel across the galaxy and even to other dimensions to find a fitting opponent to launch the old struggle, hand against hand, arm against arm. Their technology is sophisticated but they glory in that most primal of all conflicts, hand to hand combat.

Normally when we release a line of models, we post colour photos of the models to give you a full idea of what you're getting, and we were about to do this as well for the Huntarr, but three of them materialised in my office, one after the other, looming over me, and threatened to paint the walls with my innards if I did so! So I won't be posting preview images. Naturally the skeptical consumer may say, "well then I'm not buying them, what sort of nonsense is this?" He'd have a good point, and those who buy will buy on faith.

And they will not be disappointed, for these tall, lanky creatures are splendid sculpts. On average they are 21mm tall!

Of course, once the models are "out there" I can't control what people do with them, but I am relying on the discretion of the gaming community -- I don't want those Huntarrs to materialise in my office again!

Available here:
15mm Sci fi Page

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Stikks

The Stikks do not speak often, but when they do, they speak all at once, together.

One Stikk will begin rubbing its mouth parts together, letting out a rhythmic chirp, and all at once every other creature in the pod will join in, each predicting the patterns and rhythms of the others, so that they sing as one, except occasionally one Stikk will interject a chord soaring higher over the steady song, which may have some deep significance, or may just be for the sake of the music. We still have not been able to decipher their speech patterns.

Although they are properly called the Entomals, "Stikks" became the popular name for these beings in the Federation soon after first contact, apparently because the Federal troops who first fought them, FLA (former Latin America) regiments of the Federal Army, found them to resemble stick insects. There is indeed some superficial resemblance around the head, but as those Federal soldiers could attest, these are not sluggish or slow moving life forms. In life and in war, they are nimble and aggressive, especially when together in large numbers.

Like the infantry forces of other sentients, the Stikk infantry are the basis of their military. The basic unit is called by the Federal military a pod, made up of three triads and a leader. Each triad has two Stikk gunbugs and a heavy gunbug. All Stikk soldiers wear a reflective armour array that protects the torso and the lower leg from laser weapons and provides some residual protection against other attacks, relying on their tough exoskeleton for further defence.

Each Stikk pod has attached to it a doublebarrelled heavy gun team, which like all infantry weapons is of the gauss type, and a mortar team, which provides indirect fire to the pod, firing an electroshock round. Both gunteams are commanded by another leader who stays in close contact with the pod leader, and serves as a second in command should the pod leader become a casualty.

Available as hive-level support is the Crikket Infantry Cannon, which will "walk" when activated by its crew and fires either an armour piercing or high explosive round. This and many other Stikk weapons systems shows disturbing signs of biological life and is believed to be a synthetic bioweapon, these being collectively called "Synths" by Federal soldiers. When the crew are separated from the Crikket it will go to ground or will amble toward the nearest concentration of Stikk soldiers. It will not fire on the enemy unless crewed. All the crewstikks need do is gently nudge it and it will walk where they direct. It has proven to be an extremely useful infantry support weapon.

Providing potent aerial fire support for the Stikk forces is the Odonate light gunship, popularly called the "Dragonfly" for obvious reasons, another suspected "Synth," although there are unconfirmed reports of Stikk crew evacuating downed gunships. It is small but well armed with a twin heavy gauss cannon, and both anti-personnel rockets and anti-tank missiles. It is arguably the most nimble gunship in federal space, its "wings" manuevering it in directions that would be impossible for Federal flyers, and is exceptionally resilient for its size. These craft operate in close cooperation with the infantry pods.

The Stikks have also been reported to use heavy armoured vehicles in combat and for transport, but there have not been confirmations of those yet. These vehicles are said to be large, modular, and legged. Reports of Stikk heavy shock infantry of a completely different and much larger species, operating in small groups in close coordination with the infantry pods, are also unconfirmed, but are being investigated.

The Stikks were first encountered in the War of Vasq Separation, when the Separatists hired several Stikk battalions to assist their armed resistance to the dominant culture, the Torans, who had requested Federal intervention. The encounter with the Stikks during the first phase of combat operations took the local Federal and Toran government forces completely by surprise, and it is still not known how the Separatists hired the Stikks or introduced them to the theater without discovery by Federal Intelligence. The Stikks fought the loyalist and Federal forces to a standstill, prompting the local Federal joint-services commander to call for a ceasefire.

Reports soon reached Federal HQ that the Stikks had not been paid and had promptly departed, leading to immediate resumption of hostilities upon the expiration of the ceasefire, the Separatists being defeated in weeks.

The Stikks have subsequently been encountered on several occasions serving as mercenaries on the frontier or even in some of the more autonomous Freeholds. Their own language is completely indecipherable, but they have mastered Federal Standard and are able to understand it, and to speak it as well, approximating the sounds by rubbing their mouth parts together. This form of communication is a slow process but in the end they are able to make themselves understood.

Some Stikk soldiers wear backpacks and these are closely guarded. It is theorized that these contain concentrations of pheromones which permit the individual pods to stay in close ocntact with each other and their hive-level support. Each pod has one pack, worn by the senior heavy gunner in the first triad. Many members of the pod heavy weapons team also wear these backpacks.

The Stikks are virtually impossible to break in combat when their pod is intact, but they seem to key closely into each other, as when the casualties rack up they lose their fanaticism and when only a few Stikks are together it is easy to chase them off, easier than would be the case with other opposing forces. As such it seems likely that they have some form of hive or herd mentality.

The Stikks were sculpted in 15mm scale by Mike Lovejoy, and were painted by Chris Yaro. The infantry pod has ten models, each a unique sculpt. The heavy weapons team set has two different weapons and five crew in three different poses. The Crikket gun is pewter and has two different crewmen. The Odonate gunship is also solid pewter and does not supply the flight stand. Although it should be noted that the craft has landing skids so can be placed on the table, as it closely resembles a dragonfly we assume gamers will definitely want to depict it flying! Chris has used an acrylic flight rod and a plastic base.

The Stikks will be released very shortly. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Goliath Mortar

The Goliath mortar was heavily used by both the Control forces on Sepulveda 7 and, when captured, their Resistance foes. Shown below is the Control team and the Goliath mortar in 15mm scale.

We've had Resistance crew made as well for the weapon.

Coming later this year, stay tuned for details.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Space Demon Nymph Hosts

There are many horrible things about space demons, but their method of reproduction is perhaps the most horrible of all.

Space demon queens deliver live nymphs and these immediately scramble about looking for a host. (This task is often made easier for the nymphs by adult demons, who drag hosts off and imprison them in a chamber near the queen, to supply to emerging nymphs.) When the nymph finds a suitable host, it will hop onto it and swallow its head into their body via a huge maw on the bottom of the nymph's body, sinking their scythe-legs into the shoulders of the host and a piercer rod through the skull and into the brain of the host. Removal of this rod results in guaranteed 100% fatality to the host, so once hosts are infected there is no saving them.

The nymph thereby takes over the body of the host, and begins pumping in hormones and enzymes which rapidly transform the body of the host at a molecular level, until about two weeks later the host is a full-fledged space demon. This process tends to spread from the neck down to the legs, but this is not always the case, and for instance one arm of the host may have transformed into a space demon arm before the other has.

The host's brain is the last part to be transformed in order to continue to support the still human bits of the transforming creature. This is a painful process for the host, to put it mildly, whose muffled screams of anguish have led to nymph hosts being termed howlers or shriekers.

This explains why space demon nymphs appear to be assault demon heads with spindly legs, as that is essentially what nymphs are.

Even while transforming, the nymph host can be a formidable opponent, as it is "piloted" by the nymph which will use the host's limbs to flail at enemies of the hive with that terrifying strength that the human body can demonstrate when it is not inhibited by fear of self-injury. Nymph hosts can sometimes be found shambling about, shreiking or moaning, in zones infested by space demons, and make frightening foes indeed if they can get into close combat, made only worse by their piteous shrieks as they flail away.

The models are available now, code TTC-908 (the newest code in the Space Demon range). Click on the above image to see it larger.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Preview of 15mm sci fi interior battlescapes

Here are previews of our upcoming 15mm scale Sci Fi interiors. They are meant to allow the gamer to represent the interior of a lab where something has gone terribly wrong, the interior of a starship that's been boarded by enemy troops or intruded upon by some horrifying stalker, the underground passageways of a massive defence complex, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

The first piece is your basic corridor, 150mm x 50mm (6" x 2").

Next up we have the smaller corridor, a corner piece or small room, 50mm (2") square.

To clutter up the corridors and to place barriers between them we have consoles/computers/etc, a drab looking desk (over which a guard may be draped, dead, or a desk with a half-eaten doughnut may be placed), and doors and bulkheads of varying sizes to split up your battlescape into fighting zones.

The console/computer pieces are meant to be two-sided, and have on their rear access doors such as those shown above.

Martin of Fire Broadside has done a splendid job painting these up in an ominous, businesslike fashion, and he took it upon himself to array the pieces together to show the kind of look the gamer can achieve.

One note, however. These pieces are not puzzle-like interlocking sets and were not designed to have curtain walls along the sides. The idea was that the gamer would build angular snaking sections which can be placed together in various configurations, but they do not interlock. Curtain walls along the sides, in our experience, tend to get in the way of model placement and a clear view of the action, so the vertical dividers, mostly doors but also including bulkheads without doors, are meant to create dead ends or dividers.

John Bear Ross has done an excellent job putting these together in the look of many popular sci fi realizations of interior battlescapes which we may all be familiar with. And there's more coming! A large round room (yes, round!) to represent a central test chamber, the bridge of a small ship, etc.; a spaceship or test chamber large control seat with readout console; a sleeper chamber for cryogenic preservation, an engine, generator, or other large piece of machinery, and a pillar to create the look of a support, or to put together an elevator, etc. All of these will be shown when they are ready for sale. The first pieces should be released soon. Thanks John and Martin! If gamers like these we will certainly make more.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Vulk Missileman, Jasmine Throne Foreign Battalions

Above is an image of a Vulk missileman from the JTFB, the Jasmine Throne Foreign Battalions.

The so-called Kingdom of the Jasmine Throne is a freehold in Federation space inhabited largely by humans, settlers primarily from the former Terran Central Asia, and their young queen, Roxann Diamunda, is a just and humane ruler. However, there has always been a great deal of intrigue, rivalry and dissension in the military and ruling caste of the Jasmine Throne, and assassinations and military coups were all too common in the past. This led the queen's great grandfather, the mighty Shapur the Wise, to raise four battalions of aliens to serve as his bodyguard, simply titled the Foreign Battalions.

The force has gradually been expanded and there now exist twelve battalions of JTFB as well as four armoured battalions. Each infantry squad member and vehicle crewman is a different alien species to prevent collusion in the ranks.

This system has worked well and there have been no successful coups since Shapur's time.

Aliens come from around the galaxy to serve in the JTFB, for many different motives. They may all look different but they wear uniform armour (modified to suit varying body shapes, of course) and use weapons of standard design (similarly modified by your friends at Mercanto-Dett Military Solutions). All must know at least rudimentary words in Federal Standard in order to obey simple commands. The training regimen is gruelling and many candidates fail, but those who succeed are members of an elite, hallowed formation indeed.In fact, it was Roxann's decision to send six battalions of the JTFB to Molch that turned the tide in the Molch/Vornid War.

Their battle cry is "to the queen!" which is a reminder that their most important role is to protect the queen and rally to her in case of a coup attempt.

All JTFB members are called "men" even though none are human and some are female. Vulk are some of the larger aliens serving in the JTFB and as such are often tasked as the heavy missileman in Fireteam A in a squad. Vulk are huge, ferocious carnivores and must undergo considerable conditioning to work with other species, but these dauntless warriors invariably earn the respect and sometimes even affection of their teammates for their coolness and bravery under fire. The huge Slaker cannons that native Vulk warriors employ are of no use to them in the JTFB as a logistical matter, and they are equipped with a standard heavy smart missile launcher, which is mounted on their armour and aimed and fired by a pressure point implanted in the Vulk's mouth.

This is the first sneak preview of our upcoming JTFB line, which will be made up entirely of unique aliens, each in standard armour and using standard weapons. They use MDMS vehicles, the Goanna/Taipan AFV and Canetoad APC, and there will be JTFB crew halves for those vehicles as well. We may even commission Roxann and her Neo-Sassanid legions as a future human faction (most of the army of the Jasmine Throne is human, only the queen's bodyguard being alien). Stay tuned for more details on the JTFB.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Space Demon Shockforce

In their ten millenium-long war with "Species 84," the Ti Monhids have bioengineered what we, in our dimension, call the Space Demons, viciously fearless creatures of unparalled close combat capability. Battle forces of tens of thousands of these creatures, swarming around their enormous Ti Monhid lords, have helped reverse the steady reverses that the Ti Monhids had suffered as, in their arrogance and wickedness, they attacked a far superior race.

Indications are that the Ti Monhids wish to finally gain the momentum in the colossal conflict, and have begun breeding a new species of Space Demon, one that is as skilled as its predecessors with fang and tailaxe but now carries a biorifle, firing chambered acid a very long distance and with great accuracy. (How they can shoot with such accuracy when the species has no eyes is still a mystery to Federal scientists.)

Here's a sneak preview of two of the five poses of the newest swarm bioweapon of the Ti Monhids, the Space Demon Shockforce. There will be five poses, four rifledemons and a demon with a heavier acid-cannon.

As befits a new sub-species, a new head has been developed, with sensor strands on either side to pick up the location of their targets with uncanny accuracy.

Stay tuned for more details.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fur flies at Khurasan Miniatures!

Whether you like 15mm sci fi or high adventure, there's something fluffy for you at Khurasan Miniatures.

First up we have updated our Mystri Island range with some hominids who apparently found a coke bottle, or touched a black rectangle, or whatever, and now realise that the nearby bone bed is a splendid arsenal! Ten models in five subhuman poses.

They are available here:
Mystri Island

Pulp sci fi hasn't been neglected on the rug-with-legs front, as the Furrobots have invaded, the leader Spar Tan and his two minions (insert ancient civilization references here) arriving in a flurry of bubbles to wipe out mankind, but hopefully not the cutest girls.

The Furrobots are available here:
Planet 15

Thursday, June 9, 2011


The Federal Defence Forces are static army units which defend far-flung worlds from alien attack or infestation, and preserve government control on planets subject to unrest or separatism. They wear some body armour, though less extensive than in the first-line Federal Army divisions, and it is of simpler design and tech. Their weapons are the older rifles firing caseless CPR but each one mounts a grenade launcher and this affords the FDF troops with considerable close range firepower.

Due to infestation either by Space Demons or Parasachnids, units of the FDF stationed in infested zones have become proficient at eradicating such "xeno-hazards." These units are called, with some dark humour, "Exterminators," and they are the only units of the FDF to be actively posted to foreign worlds, but only long enough to put in place a programme of eradication (POE) so that the local forces can then maintain the xeno-hazard.

One typical unit is the 1/2/469FDF (first battalion, second division, 469th FDF Division), a unit raised on Earth, in the FUSA (Former United States of America). Although raised in the Mid-West of the FUSA, the unit has been stationed for some years in the Florida Quarantine Zone, which was rendered uninhabitable by Parasachnid infestation after the First Pelagic War. It being eventually recognised that these infested zones would be difficult if not impossible to fully cleanse, the emphasis is instead placed on population control, planned and executed by the FDF division in the zone, in this case the 469th.

The most effective bug-hunting battalion in the division is the first battalion of the second brigade, a designated Exterminator unit self-dubbed the "Pointy Toed Shoes" because there is no place the bugs can hide once the second battalion is gunning for them.

Because of their Exterminator status the PTS are periodically deployed to other worlds as well, and they were eventually called in to implement a POE for the Parasachnid population after the Sepulvedan War was over. During this time they also had many battles with holdover Control Battalion Death Squads surviving in remoter outposts of the planet.

We are pleased to sneak preview the first three of nine poses of 15mm Exterminators which will be released shortly. The pack will be a typical squad, split into two four-soldier fireteams and led by a sergeant. Each fireteam will have a MLMG (mobile light machine gunner); one team has three riflemen as support for the MLMG, the other team having two riflemen and a flamethrower operator. These should be released in a few weeks.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Karkwagon

The Karkarines are amphibious creatures that evolved from fish similar to earth's sharks. Their body form permits them to inhabit shoreline areas and to live in both the sea and on the land, a strong advantage for a sentient life form.

The Karkarines are the main line infantry soldiers of the Pelagic Dominate, and when their Cnidarian masters call them to war they fight in the very powerful, advanced tech anti-grav vehicles that the Cnidarians provide.

However, they have also ranged far and wide throughout the galaxy themselves, serving as mercenaries for any party willing to pay their price. They are not very good as garrison troops but are an excellent choice as troops to buy before a battle, for they are brave and have a serious attitude toward war.

When they serve as mercenaries they do not have access to the grav tanks of the Dominate, but that does not mean they go to battle without armoured support, and their forces are in fact highly mechanized. The most common vehicle used by them is the Karkwagon, an armoured personnel carrier offering a good degree of protection agaist small arms fire and shrapnel. The vehicle is fully tracked and has two heavy hydroplasma cannons as its main armament.

The vehicle is cramped and uncomfortable for humans but the Karks like it that way, their traditional form of social interaction being to stand or swim in close proximity to each other. The vehicles carry four large boxes which are filled with water before the vehicle goes on a mission, as when the squad deploys the rear door opens and much of the water in the vehicle escapes. When the squad remounts, the door is closed and the water pours from the spare tanks into the vehicle. The Karks can get by indefinitely without water, as they can extract oxygen from air as well as water, but they greatly prefer to have water flowing over their gills.

The Karks widely export the Karkwagon as well, and when they do most races naturally prefer to use the spare water tanks for storage. Some remove them altogether. The vehicles are cheap and simple, being welded plates for the most part, but they get the job done, being well-armoured and having good speed and reliability.

These vehicles, as well as the equally ubiquitous Karkpanzer, were used in great numbers in the Molch Vornid War.

The Karkwagon was designed for sci fi or Weird World War II gaming, and was sculpted by TMP's "Grabula." It is not a CAD design, it was made the old fashioned way! The kit is all resin and easy to assemble. The spare boxes are optional and any or all may be left off. The mail hull piece, not including the tread assemblies, is about 2 1/4" (57mm) long. Coming soon.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Federal Army Infantry Drone (preview)

Here's an advance look at the infantry drone often attached to Federal Army infantry at the platoon level. Remotely controlled, each of these micro-drones is capable of travelling along the walls of city streets, into a major built up structure or deep underground into an enemy bunker via an air duct or other entrance to deliver vital intel on enemy movements.

And for those moments when causing a little mayhem is in order, the drone will be able to mount an optional rack of F&F micromissles.

This is just one of a whole series of new items being cooked up for the Federal Army by Mike Broadbent. As usual, Mike's done a splendid job on this piece! Stay tuned for more intel.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chewk paintup preview

Very pleased to preview the Chewks, sand-shrimp desert aliens in 15mm scale. Click on the images to see full size. The Chewks are the native sentient life form on Sepulveda 7. The first pic shows their size compared to a popular 15mm sci fi alien choice, the human-size Felids. Sure, the Chewk is a wee fella, but he has the heart of a lion (a very small lion), and his bolt action plasma rifle packs a mean punch!

The Chewk infantry will be sold in two packs. The first pack has twenty six chewks in fourteen different poses -- twelve riflechewk poses (pack comes with two of each pose) and two chewktain poses (pack comes with one of each pose).

The second pack has twelve Chewks weapons crews in twelve different poses, as well as their heavy weapons -- to make up two chewkbomber (mortar) teams, two chewkgun (machine gun) teams, and two chewkzooka (chewk-portable rocket launcher) teams.

Also available will be the mighty Chewk Drill Tank, a flat-headed monstrosity in which entire tribes of Chewks travel deep under the desert sands -- only to erupt from nowhere and spill out, raining mayhem on unlucky travellers in the Sepulvedan deserts. It is a resin kit, posed emerging from the sand, with doors that can be posed open so your Chewk tribe can run out shouting oaths in Chewkish. And there's also a field piece, the chewkannon, which comes with pieces to either be mounted on a boom arm on the Drilltank, or on a mobile field carriage, and this even includes the chewkamel, a giant no-see-um beast of burden that pulls the chewkannon carriage.

I've got multiple vehicle kits to release this week, and the Mekanoids next, so look for the Chewks the week after that.

To read more about the Chewks, read this blog entry.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Molch Vornid War

One of the many body forms that Molch "extensions" take

The Molch Vornid War is an ongoing, localized conflict outside the boundaries of any of the great spacefaring races, in the FUZ (Fifth Unincorporated Zone). The Molch, a peaceful and intellectual, but physically hideous race, have long provided the sentients of the galaxy with thought provoking philosophical tracts. Be this as it may, they have nonetheless attracted the unkind attention of the sentient Vornids, botanoids (plant creatures) who, apparently on religious grounds, are incapable of tolerating the extreme ugliness of the Molch and are conducting a holy war to “cleanse” planet Molch of its occupants.

A Vornid commander

Invading Molch in force, despite its considerable distance from Vornus, and setting up fortified bases on the planet, the Vornids initially conducted ghastly sweeps in which they annihiliated the peaceful Molch who naively came to greet them as friends.

But soon it became apparent that the Vornids had started a fight rather than a massacre, for the Molch, when given no choice but to defend themselves, are capable of just that, conducting tenekinetic and psychic attacks of startling destructive power.

The Molch also proved more difficult to eradicate than anyone had anticipated – while the details are still unknown even to the friends of the Molch, each individual creature seems to be a physical “extension” of one or more vast beings which reside at the core of the planet itself (or, at least, somewhere under its surface). When a Molch extension becomes elderly, it disappears into certain designated caves called life-portals and soon thereafter another Molch extension emerges, unlike the first and fully mature (there are no Molch children, nor do they appear to be separated by gender). Thus, as long as a Molch extension, living or “dead,” is capable of being transported into one of these caves, it will soon emerge as a new extension. In this way many sectors which seemed “cleansed” by Vornid attacks were in short order heavily populated by Molch again, aimlessly wandering about and chatting amongst themselves, as they are wont to do.

And so at first the Molch seemed quite capable of defending themselves against the Vornids, who had opened this campaign with very aggressive tactics, sweeping straight down on Molch population centers in their slaver galleys and engaging the Molch at point blank range -- the very range at which Molch psychic blasts were at their most devastating, ripping Vornid troopers to pieces or turning them inside out, their slaver galleys brought down in flames. And at their command, certain types of Molch were able to animate stone into vaguely human form (the form they had long ago noted to be most effective for close combat). These towering stone constructs, the Molch Defenders, had only one purpose -- hammering the foes of the Molch – and they never slowed or tired in its pursuit. Although they could be destroyed with enough firepower, the Defender-construct battalions were phenomenally resistant, and utterly terrifying foes in close combat.

But the Vornids rapidly adapted their tactics around the strengths of their hated race-enemy, as was their way. Now they take to opening battle by bombarding Molch population aggregations from space, then move the slaver galleys in to conduct long-range direct fire from nape of earth, often many kilometers away, bringing the devastating power of the mighty ventral rifles to bear, and closing in only when many Molch have been “killed” and Defender-constructs smashed into pieces. This has proved to be a very effective tactic and evens the score in the resulting close quarters battle.

Not achieving the instant victory they had anticipated, the Vornids supplemented their own expeditionary crusading army by hiring large numbers of mercenaries from far and wide, a rogues’ gallery of pugnacious alien regiments exploited as cannon fodder but also at times hired for their specialist combat skills. Kark and Stick regiments served the Vornids in large numbers, using their native vehicle technology to carry the fight to the Vornids. Felids also joined the fight, sub-contracted by the Garn reptilians who are the overlords of the Felids and who have close economic relations with the Vornids. Indeed the Molch-Vornid War is just one of the many campaigns the Felids have had to endure when they have no enthusiasm for the fight and no love for their employers. As one Felid wrote back to his cub, “there is no honour in making war in this way, my imravi … using long range firepower to blast peaceloving creatures … making war upon animated stone machines … serving detestable, emotionless creatures which sway like the weeds in the breeze, stink like a bog, and have no faces. This war wears us down, imravi, but heed my words -- disloyalty to our masters, those who rose us up, would be more dishonourable still.”

The Vornids quickly came to the conclusion that the key to victory was destroying or at least neutralizing the Molch life-portals, striking at the mysterious underground “essence” that generated the individual Molch. And with each battle they are gradually achieving his goal, establishing bases closer and closer to the life-portals, although at bitter cost. Detest it though they may, soon the embattled Molch had to consider adopting some of the methods of their Vornid enemies – by spreading it out to other races, reaching out, somehow, to someone who might help them to preserve the Molch essence that continuously dwelt below the surface for millions of years.

But how? Contact with the humans, their faraway spiritual allies, was impossible due to the extreme human reaction to the Molch physical appearance, which invariably brings insanity with long enough exposure. And only through the humans, with their vast net of contacts and communications, could they hope to approach other races to seek out help.

The Essence pondered this question, and then came to a conclusion – it would create a new kind of extensions, these to be shaped like the humans, which would hopefully be at least tolerable so that humans and Molch could communicate in close proximity. And it set about attempting to generate such extensions, at first bringing to being many that were wholly unsatisfactory, and had to be folded back into the Essence. It was a grave expenditure of energy and thought at a time that this could be ill-afforded, but finally, with the crucial help of one selfless human philosopher who traveled to Molch and gave her sanity so that the Essence might better understand human physicality, extensions began to emerge which vaguely resembled human life forms. They had no tenekinetic powers, and were thus unable to defend themselves. As a wholly new variety of extension, they did not have much of the wisdom of the Essence, and were often na├»ve and fearful, and the Essence fretted over them. These new extensions were indeed still hideous to human eyes but at least were not madness-inducing to gaze upon and communicate with, and they conquered their fear and feelings of vulnerability, traveling out alone, spreading far and wide, seeking human help wherever they could find it. They called themselves the Molch Emissaries.

And these kindly, hideous creatures achieved their goals, and human help came.

Billions had read, heard or digi-grated the philosophy of the Molch and taken it into their hearts, and were willing to tolerate the nausea-inducing appearance of the Molch Emissaries in order to save the wise and kind spirit that had generated them. Forbidden by federal law to serve as mercenaries, the humans either arranged for the Molch to hire alien mercs, or served themselves, outside the law. Entire battalions were formed, some idealistic volunteers, others mercenaries hired by human donation, purchasing their arms from Mercanto-Dett Military Solutions, the great multiplanetary corporation based on New Australia, or from the black market, these being mostly Nova Respublik weapons and vehicles. In coordinating the actions of these human battalions with the overall Molch defense, the Emissaries proved their worth again, acting as communications links between the humans and the Molch, who the volunteers could not set eyes upon without going mad.

Human financial contributions also hired Kark regiments to assist the Molch, and these fought well, sometimes against their own kind, bringing their native-designed vehicles with them.

Combattants of the Molch Vornid War, seen to scale -- a Felid, an Ursid and a Molch Defender-construct

Further allies and mercenaries came to the Molch almost by accident. Perhaps the best example of this was those famed Armadilloid gunfighters, “los Viejos,” who were at first approached by the Vornids to serve as mercenaries but upon hearing the grisly details promptly killed the Vornids and traveled to join the Molch side. While they were not pleased by the appearance of the Molch, they served right amongst them, often acting as an elite close-range fireteam, for it is said that los Viejos never miss a target they fire at with their dreaded plasma sixguns.

Another example of such a fortuitous alliance involved the Ursids, massive, phlegmatic creatures who have been exiled from their Federal homeworld and now travel the galaxy selling their services to the highest bidder. The Ursids love a good brawl and bring daunting firepower to bear – their standard armament is a BPFG (bear-portable fusion gun) which can crack open a heavy tank at long range. First sub-subcontracted by the Felids, the Ursids immediately took a disliking to the conflict and particularly to the Vornids, and at the first opportunity changed sides, working for less than their normal wage, which was to be paid by human donations. The Ursids have become accustomed to the appearance of the Molch, although like virtually all sentients they find them to be disturbing to be around for too long a time.

Regarding the war itself, the Molch are, as always, philosophical. They seem to take it almost in stride that the Vornids are fanatically seeking their destruction, and have even published poignant tracts in which they plead with other sentients not to judge the Vornids too harshly for their actions. This does not mean, however, that they permit the Vornids to destroy them or penetrate the secrets of their subterranean essence, and the fight goes on, with no quarter on either side.

One thing the Molch truly do fear, however, is that this war will eventually draw the attention of the Cult of Andromeda, as local wars often do, as flies are drawn to a corpse. About this the Molch are very clear – the Cult presents an existential threat and is never, under any circumstances, to be suffered to survive. Few creatures have pondered the universe and the nature of existence as continuously as the Molch, and so few can appreciate the nightmare that can be unleashed by Andromeda and her followers.

Our first codes for the combatants in the Molch-Vornids War are in fact already available – the Molch themselves, released as Lovecraftian intergalactic terrors in our popular 1930s Eldritch Horror range. The models were however specifically made to represent the various types of Molch “extensions,” including the vaguely humanoid, although still disgusting, Molch Emissaries, who can be used as command liasions between the Molch and their various allies. To be released very soon will be the (literally) heartless Vornid pirates, the big, even-tempered Ursid mercenaries, and the big animated-stone Defender constructs. Soon after those we will release the armadilloids called “Los Viejos,” the deadliest shots in the known universe – death in a sombrero. Stay tuned for more information.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Federal Review of Sentient Xeno-Biology: the Vornids

Perhaps the strangest of all the sentients in known space are the Vornids, commonly called “slavers” or “pirates” because they often engage in piracy or raiding for the primary purpose of seizing other sentients to sell in the galactic slave market. They inhabit a chain of heavily fortified colony pods on the mid-level belts of the gas giant Vornus 5, and also live, sometimes temporarily, in many colonies and outposts in outlying star systems. They possess sophisticated technology and are capable of FTL travel.

Vornids are the only known sentient botanoids capable of fairly rapid movement. They transport themselves using a series of motor-vines emanating from the base of the body trunk, and are also capable of precise manipulation using mid-trunk manipulator-vines. They are capable of obtaining energy by both consuming other life-forms just as animals (and some plants) do, or by more conventional photosynthesis. They “see” by continuously emitting spores from a single “eye” on top of the body trunk, which return information to the individual. While radically different from the senses of most sentient animals, this system evidently produces roughly equivalent awareness of the creatures’ surroundings.

Because of the unlikely physical nature of the Vornids, the prevailing theory amongst federal scientists is that, rather than evolving into this form, they were engineered. One possibility is that the Vornids were created as a race of slavers by an imperial race which no longer exists, or has yet to reveal itself. The Vornids’ social interactions with other sentient races are limited to raiding, piracy, trade in slaves and goods (putting slaves into the market and taking raw materials and finished goods from it), and banking, which is a thriving business for them. Due to their active engagement in slavery the Federation has criminalized any form of trade or financial transaction with the Vornids, including use of their galactically-famed banking system, but alien civilisations (and less scrupulous Freeholds) are actively engaged with the Vornids on all levels.

No matter what the level of engagement may be, however, until recently there were no species of animal sentients in known space which had any significant level of comprehension of Vornid motives, biology or society. They remained a mystery even to the Garn, who heavily employ the no-questioned-asked Vornid banking services, and the Karkarines, who often act as interpreters and go-betweens for the Vornids.

Their motives may not be known, but their methods are. When on raids, the Vornids appear on a planetary surface in force, relentlessly driving sentients before their implacable advance. Their large Slaver Galleys skim rapidly along, hugging the surface, huge barbed grabber-vines dangling down, embracing any unfortunates in their path and stuffing them into expanding trap-bladders on the bottom of the Galley. Any creature that enters these trap-bladders cannot escape or be rescued unless it is released by the Vornids themselves, as species-specific toxins are released into the trap-bladder when any attempt is made to open them.

The great Slaver Galleys also function as combat transports for the Vornids, each Galley being able to carry a squad on a dorsal troop platform, into the surface of which the squad is able to root itself securely, using their motor vines. The Galley mounts its own firepower, a huge ventral rifle of formidable power, capable of destroying a heavy tank with a single shot, as well as two deck guns manned by Vornid crew. These deck gunners are the only crew apparent on a Slaver Galley, and so it seems that the Galleys are themselves living creatures, because they maneuver and also fire the ventral rifle when no Vornids are seen aboard.

Vornid infantry squads are made up of the basic troopers with their trichome rifles, which propel multiple stingers at great speed. These stingers appear to be guided by the shooter, as they swerve and strike at targets that are out of direct line of sight, making their shooting attacks unusually effective. Over time the stingers adapt to take advantage of the genetic peculiarity of their targets. Depending on the susceptibility of the targeted species the stingers can cause rapid death, temporary immobilization or, in the most resistant species, only mild irritation. The most common human response is incapacitating pain, although multiple attacks can lead to cardiac arrest. The trichome rifle is suited for use solely by the Vornids themselves, and should not be handled under any circumstances as the weapon self-envenomates upon contact with animal tissue.

Vornid troopers apparently need to use both of their manipulator-vines to shoot the trichome rifle, although Vornid commanders, recognizable from their ventral thorns, wield a small pistol-like version of the rifle in one manipulator-vine, leaving the other free for other purposes.
The largest weapons carried by Vornid infantry are the thorn cannon and the heavy trichome gun. The thorn cannon has considerable anti-armour capability and is able to penetrate the battle dress of Federal SAB troopers. The heavy trichome gun is essentially a cognate of Federal squad automatic weapons, being capable of longer ranges and a much higher rate of sustained fire than the trichome rifle. These heavier weapons can either be carried by some troopers in infantry squads, or in their own units.

As botanoids, the Vornids are extremely tough and exceptionally difficult to kill in battle, particularly because most weaponry in use amongst the major powers has been developed for purposes of incapacitating animal life forms. They also do not seem to experience fear or panic, and as such proven combat tactics often do not yield the expected results. Whilst Vornids are relatively agile for botanoids, they are still not as fast or maneuverable as most animal sentients. However, they are capable of digging their motor-vines into the earth and are extremely difficult to expel from a position.

It is impossible for animal sentients to communicate with the Vornids unless they provide a V-trans device, which is worn on a sentient’s forehead and permits the wearer to understand simple communications from a nearby Vornid also wearing a V-trans device. In this way the Vornids have very effectively controlled and limited alien understanding of their communications. In fact, until the Molch-Vornid War, nothing was known of Vornid motives or racial goals at all. This war, the only one launched by the Vornids for purposes other than slaving, shed the first light on the Vornid racial consciousness, perhaps permitting Federal scientists to rationally speculate about how the Vornids might react when faced by certain challenges. But what we still have much to learn about this mysterious race.

Part II will summarize the start of the Molch-Vornid War.

The Vornids will be released soon, in three packs -- the warrior pack of eight different poses, the heavy weapons pack with two thorn cannoneers and two heavy trichome guns, and the command pack with two low-level commanders and a high commander. Each pack contains sprues for the Vornid's mouths, half open and half closed, but there are some extra mouth pieces in case you have some preference. Also in the pack are accessory sprues with flowers, leaves, and other growths that can be commonly seen on many Vornids. These are purely optional and may be left off. Also released with the Vornids will be the Molch Defenders, huge stone creations used by the Molch to defend themselves, and the Ursids, cigar-chomping bearman mercenaries who carry heavy fusion guns into battle. A little further down the line will be the huge Vornid Slaver Galley, and vehicles used by the Karks when they perform mercenary service on their own.

Those of you who have been following the discussion on TMP will know that the Molch themselves are the creatures already released as "Thing from Beyond" in our new Eldritch Horror line -- they were originally made as the Molch, peaceful and intellectual but hideous creatures, but they are being crossmarketed as Eldritch nightmares too. Stay tuned for more delvelopments.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Control Battalion Redux

For those of you who might have missed it, in summer of 2010 we published a story featuring the troopers of the Control Battalions which gives some feel for what they are and how they fight. It can be read HERE.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Felid Prideguard

When a Felid baron leads his circles to war, he generally has a household bodyguard of veteran warriors which rides in his Lion transport and fights by his side. This is the baron’s Prideguard, promoted from the best of the Alpha Warriors in his circles.

The Prideguard can be concentrated around its lord, or it can be spread throughout the Baron’s circles, acting as elite cadres to bolster the rest in combat.

The most distinctive feature of these household soldiers is their helmets, which provide the Guards enhanced visual and aural perception, an independent air supply, and closer communications with their baron, just as he is linked to the Alpha Warriors commanding his other circles.

These helmets are expensive for cash-strapped Felid baronies, but the wealthier barons have the financial means to also offer the Prideguard helmet as a reward, granting them in a brief ceremony after battle to one common warrior who showed conspicuous bravery. Being granted such an honorific helmet generally creates a fast track to promotion to a coveted position of Alpha Warrior in the circle. Not all Felid warriors see the honorific helmets as purely a blessing, however, as such a reward generally invites the rivalry of the established Alpha Warrior in the circle. Furthermore, most Felids initially dislike wearing these rather form-fitting helmets, for it is against their nature to wear anything on their faces or heads, and they perceive enclosure within the helmet as an impingement on their own keen senses (although they soon learn that the helmet actually improves their senses).

Whatever its perception within the circles, the Prideguard helmet is a clear sign to the foe that they are facing the most formidable of the Felid warriors, endowed with the greatest situational awareness.

Our latest pack of Felids, the Prideguard, is now available in a circle of ten, with one Prideguard Alpha Warrior (generally the eldest son of the baron), one Prideguard Warrior with a Heavy Plasma Gun, one with a Grenade Launcher, and seven with heavy blasters.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Preview of 15mm Chinantecs

We're about to release our next range of ancients (technically Medievals/Renaissance) -- the Chinantecs, a confederation of people from 20 towns in the Oaxacan highlands in what is now Mexico. They were fierce enemies of the Aztecs and so welcomed the Spanish as allies in their struggle to remain independent of Aztec conquest. Histories vary but some say that they had been conquered just before the Spanish arrived in a bitter series of campaigns, others asserting that a few of the towns were still holding out when the Spanish overthrew the Aztecs.

Probably the most interesting element of their warfare was their use of phalanxes of spearmen using enormous spears, reported, perhaps with some exaggeration, to be over 6m (20 feet) long. Even more unusual, these spears have razor sharp obsidian glass embedded along the lateral edge of the pole, running a considerable length down the shaft. The soldiers who used these spears also used a cloth shield called a pavesina by the Spanish, suggesting it was large and roughly rectangular, this shield apparently being of thick fabric so that when not in use it could be rolled up and carried.

The Chinantecs also used archers, although their role is unclear. They may have formed behind the spear masses to shoot overhead at the enemy, as this is the way they marched to the aid of Cortes during a Conquistador civil war -- intersperced with the spearmen. Or they may simply have marched that way, and formed separately as skirmishers on the flanks or to the front of the spear units.

They also are described as using some slingers, a common troop type throughout ancient Mexico, so we have made some of those as well. They may seem a drab troop type, but the sling was one of the weapons most feared by the Conquistadors.

Next we come to their nobility who, very unusually for Mexico, used the bow, but this was supplemented with the macana, a wooden club/sword edged with obsidian. The macana had a loop for the warrior's wrist. The best interpretation of how they carried it whilst shooting is that they wore it dangling from their wrist as they shot, which to a non-archer like me seems precarious, but I've had archers assure me it would be no problem! You can only see it on one pose here because of the angle, but the nobles all have a macana dangling from their right wrist. They also wear thick fabric armour and helmets which sport fancy feather decorations.

Finally we have a leadership element, a warlord wearing a back standard, and a musician with a conch shell trumpet, common in this part of Mexico.

When the Chinantecs marched to the aid of Cortes, they arrived just too late to fight, and the captured rebels apparently considered this very a good thing! They are quoted as being very impressed with the martial bearing of the warriors. As can be seen from the images, the Chinantecs painted their faces and legs in black and/or red warpaint. They models are depicted in the long breechclout and sandals that were typical of the peoples of the area.

To read more about the Chinantecs, you may wish to consult Ian Heath's wonderful wargamer's guide, ARMIES OF THE AZTEC AND INCA EMPIRES, OTHER NATIVE PEOPLES OF THE AMERICAS, AND THE CONQUISTADORES (Armies of the Sixteenth Century).

This army is a new and fresh element to the DBMM game system, is also provided with a list in Field of Glory, and will also be included in the Field of Glory renaissance list, so it's one of those fortunate forces that sits astride time periods and allows you to use it for several different game systems. Should be released within the week, look for an announcement soon.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Control Battalions

After failures using various alien mercenaries to control the rebellious population of Sepulveda 7, and so that the incredibly valuable extraction of Angravium would continue unabated, the overlord of the Jo-eli Freehold, Jellina Jol-i I, decided to genetically craft her own soldiers. For this she used the vast resources of Sepulveda to oppress its own population -- the staggering wealth derived from the planet's huge stores of Angravium financed the scientific and medical research necessary to forge a race of supersoldiers from a witch's brew of human and alien DNA.

Naturally, this was a serious violation of Federal law, and accordingly the work was conducted in complete secrecy in the Black Tower, Jellina's fortress/palace built on an asteroid in the 368 Sumita system. In an effort to conceal the purpose of the research and experiments, each science team's work was very narrowly proscribed, fusing of the research being left to only the most devoted (and thus demented) of her scientists.

But no bottle remains corked forever. One young scientist initially excited about the research he was hired to conduct, David Rimmer, accidentally learned its ultimate goal, to his utter horror. With his own eyes he saw that Jellina was doing the unthinkable -- tapping the DNA of the ghastly creatures of another dimension, her transplanar expeditions finally having found, in the Imperial Maggots of the Maggoton Empire, suitable DNA for melding with that of humanity. What Rimmer spied one day in the top Secret TBA (Transhuman Breeding Area) was almost beyond comprehension -- part human, part maggot, these creatures were homicidal beyond description.

However, Jellina's scientists had found a method to keep them under control, using a chemical cocktail pumped into their lungs in a fine brown mist, constantly administered within the sealed domes of their permanently installed helmets. Sedated in this way, they made the perfect soldiers -- fearless, cunning and obedient.

Rimmer quickly decided on a course of action, sabotaging the TBA and fleeing the Black Tower, wearing as he went one of the special enviro-suits that scientists were provided to protect them from the intensely toxic Maggoton organic material. Rimmer vowed to stop Jellina's plan, and to aid the people of Sepulveda, whom he now realized were not traitorous rebels as Jol-i propaganda asserted, but rather freedom fighters attempting to throw off her oppressive yoke.

This was a setback, but Jellina soon had the TBA restored and thousands of Control troopers were being bred, domesticated, trained and sent off to Sepulveda where they were a rude shock indeed for the Resistance.

Operating in squads of nine, each used a pulse rifle, and the squad also included an SAP (Squad Assault Pulser) and a remote controlled drone which mounted both an HPW (heavy pulse weapon) and a grenade launcher. Operated by a remote pilot, the drone was often in the forefront of battle, its heavy chassis protecting it from small arms fire.

These troopers took the Resistance by storm, pushing them back on all fronts and asserting Jellina's control over the mining of Angravium, not to mention rounding up subjects who were suspected of Resistance ties -- to what fate, it is not known, for once rounded up, they never returned.

As they strode purposefully through the streets of Sepulvedan cities, villages and settlements, these strange masked troopers inspired fear but also intense speculation. Why had no one ever seen them remove their helmets, or eat or drink anything -- ever? Why when they spoke was it in a weird, digitally altered hiss? They became known, with fascination and dread, as the CoBas or, more often, simply the Helmets.

CoBa crews manned (if such a word can be used for transhumans) Jellina's motley collection of vehicles as well. A single company of CoBa infantry could have some of its squads carried in the MDMS Canetoad APC, others in the few remaining Atlas APMs acquired before the Federal trade sanctions, still others in the Hedgehog APC purchased from Nova Respublik, or even in the ramshackle Sod-Kafez 2.51 "Karkwagon" sold throughout the galaxy (usually for a song) by Karkarine military contractors. CoBa urban patrols were often conducted in the Locust Patrol Truck, these sinister black vehicles being widely used to "disappear" Resistance suspects in the middle of the night.

CoBa tankers similarly crewed Jellina's modest tank fleet, again a motley collection of vehicles including a handful of elderly Federal Silers, but mostly Nova Respublik and MDMS vehicles, including the redoubtable Taipan railgun-armed medium tank.

So successful were the oppressive activities of the Control Battalions that the Federation itself chose to intervene in the Sepulvedan Campaign, though at first covertly, sending Federal Marines in Resistance garb to aid the citizens of this war torn planet. For who knew what horror lurked within the bolted-on helmets of these strange troops, Jellina's obediant attack dogs?

We will soon be releasing two packs of Control Battalion infantry -- the rifleman set and the command and weapons set. Look for a release the week of February 7, 2011.