Thursday, 30 January 2014

Tony Ackland's 'Antiqus Malleum' Concepts from Eastern Front Miniatures: The Retinue of Matthias Witherheart Champion of Malign

With Tom Barbalet posting a review of Warhammer Visions and White Dwarf Weekly on Youtube (see his review here if you haven't seen it yet) I am sure that there are many of you in morning for the glory days of a good fluffy article. If you are anything like me, the monthly ritual of going into town on a Saturday morning to pick up the latest copy was the pleasure that you savoured, especially as you knew you had the entire weekend to pour over the magazine and soak up the meaty articles.

Sadly, this looks to be a thing of the past. The glossy 'Visions' is little more than a collection of souless photographs and 'miniature porn' I am sure that there are a great number of people out there who will no doubt enjoy this experience, but I won't be one of them and I doubt many of the readers of this blog will either.

So, with the help of Mick Leach of Eastern Front Studios and Tony Ackland, I have crafted this little article for your reading pleasure. What follows is my attempt to write a background for the series of miniature concepts that Tony produced for Antiquis Malleum and tie them in with the range of daemonic creatures being developed as we speak. Though these creatures will be inspired by the daemons from RoC, they will be entirely new creations and will need a new IP friendly name. We have come up with Malign as a possibility and the following article is used to begin to sketch out the background to this 'god' in hope that it inspires others to get painting, collecting, creating and gaming in some way.

Perhaps in the future I will get the chance to develop these characters further, and begin to develop scenarios and narratives in which they can exist, and this would be doubly favorable if a miniature line helped support them! For now, I hope you enjoy the narrative that I have constructed. As ever, please do chip in with your ideas and comments.

Enjoy.



So what of the Gods themselves?

It was argued by classical scholars that our deities are nothing more than a contraction of our own puny thoughts, our most primitive feelings and instinctive responses. That their power is sourced from the wellspring of powerful emotions, be they lonely melancholy, sudden, surging agony, deepest violence, or even the lustful passions themselves. In a sense, it seems that those early philosophers were more precise than later intellectuals gave them credit for. We now know that the dominant emotions exhibited by humanoid cultures seeped through the very fabric of existence, into dimensions unfathomably more ancient than our own. There, these raw psychic pulses amalgamated into 'warpforms' or 'interdimensonal entities' that advanced to such incredible power, that their wills could extend, however subtly, into our own plain of existence and in places, for a fleeting moment anyway, break down the very barriers between the worlds and inhabit our own. Of course, the autonomy of these beings, I dare not call them gods, waxed and waned as the varied humanoid cultures of our material plain began their upward spiral towards what we call civilisation. With darker, more violent gods ascendant during times of violence and strife, and those that favoured artistic expression, or compromise, rising to prominence during periods of peace, prosperity and cultural expansion. The titles that their worshippers bestowed upon them were manifold, but the sentient core remained unchanged, immune to the ravages of the eons and only susceptible the the whims of humanity's urges and traits.

Malign was different. 

If collective thought, focused in a particular direction or empowered by a particular emotion, was responsible for the sentient forms that now rule over us, however insubstantially, then what brought forth the 'god' of parasitic destruction? The 'god' that feeds on that very fabric of congealed emotion itself? The truth was a brutal irony, for the source of the beetle headed god was not faith, nor even fear, but disbelief itself. That was Malign's paradox, for his power intensified during the so called 'Ages of Reason' or the more modern 'Enlightenment'. When the previously subservient cast down the centuries of conformity and began to question. The existence of ancient deities was for the first time in doubt. Temples were torn down. Books were burnt. There were pogroms and schisms and theological cleansings. 

The age of the atheist dawned.

And where did those collective thoughts of disbelief surge? Those emotions that soared through the fabric of dimensional space so assertively, and with such arrogance? The logic of those so certain in their reasonings that 'gods' were mere illusions, props for the ignorant savage in his measly cave, or the obedient thrall bound in dogmatic fetters? The answer was simple, those puny thoughts, those arrogant assertions, they seeped between the barriers that preserve us from insanity and slowly consolidated into the sentient being that some call Malign. 

The Parasite. 

The God-Eater. 

That was Malign's final irony. For here was the God of those who had denied the very existence of a higher power or powers. Who had laughed at the meek, faithful man or the beserk wallower in blood and death. Both deemed mindless and weak for not questioning the rule that pervaded every atom of their lives. This disbelief, this arrogant mockery, gave birth to Him and condemned a thousand million gods and goddesses to extinction. 
Extract from 'The Wane of the Gods' by Hiedylmire XXIIV



Matthias Witherheart Champion of Malign

Of all the vocal non-believers that spout their rhetoric into the world, Malign's preferred slaves are forged from those who reek of hypocrisy.  Those who condemn the cultural constructs, or religious beliefs, of others for being feeble and backward, for lacking in logic, only to become no better than the bigoted ignorantthey berate. To some, these people are doubters, to others the atheists or even, when extreme enough in their views, agnostics. So secure are these fools in their own righteousness that they fail to feel the insideous tendrils of Malign coiling around their souls in their final, gasping moments. Great pleasure is found in Malign's servants when witnessing the realisation that a lifetimes' worth of scoff that there are 'no gods' is shattered by the unutterable visage of The God-Eater himself. These slaves are forced back out into the world to seek places where extreme forms of emotion dwell, namely dimensional entities or 'daemons' to give their primitive name, and to ensure their destruction and subsequent harvest for the God-Eater.

Matthias was one such self assured individual. An artist by trade and a man ever ready to spout his beliefs across the world, condemning those who dare give sermon, with a sermon of his own. Not seeing that his own art was but a pulpit of hypocrisy, his soul was claimed with great satisfaction upon the hour of his death. Forced by a will of unimaginable scale and power to search the surface of the world for the raw material of daemonic power, Matthias and his followers are drawn towards any disturbance in the fabric of existence. They live so they may slay the entities of other awesome powers, carving the daemonic substance from which such beasts are formed and burdened with the task of organising the consumption and removal of this substance back to Malign's twisted plain of reality. 
Gregor Sinblister
Before the insectoid limbs of Malign closed around Gregor's soul, this fool of a man was a cynic of such appalling ingratitude that he cast out his own mother to further develop his political motives. Born into a rich and influential family in a northern city-state, Gregor was afforded every luxury his high birth allowed him. But privilidge was not enough, Gregor needed the raw stuff of influence to match the splendour of his possessions. In a world where oratory and intelligence were worth more than precious metals, any sign of intellectual impairment was deemed the ultimate disgrace. As the years caught up with his own mother, her mind began to wander and whispers could be heard that such behaviours were not uncommon in Gregor's House. His political opponents circled, casting barbed warnings about in high places about the suitability of a candidate who's closest living relative conversed with inanimate objects. Rather than face ridicule, Gregor ordered the exposure of his mother during one of the coldest nights of the year. Her frozen body was recovered days later and her death ruled a tragic accident. The self belief this concurred upon Gregor was strong enough to attract the attention of a daemonic servants of Malign and the soul of this matricide was doomed for eternity. 

Gregor is the jealous second in command of Matthias' warband. Less favoured of their God's whims, Gregor has lived in the shadow of his master for two hundred and seventy-five years and it remains a shadow he would be keen to step out of. Without divine intervention, such an act would be impossible, for Matthias is twice the warrior, and Malign finds his slave's bitter frustrations a great amusement, one he is keen to preserve indefinitely. 
Snaplimb Lusthowl
Not all the servants of Malign are drawn from those souls deemed foolish enough to attract the attention of The Parasite. Others come willingly. One such slave was the man who would become Snaplimb Lusthowl. His birth name is now long forgotten, and he exists only to serve the god he once denied. Exposure to the warping influence of dimensional barriers has caused parts of Lusthowl's body to twist into a poor reflection of his master's visage. Antennae like growths have spurted from his head, his eyes have begun to bloat and bulge like those of a spider while his arm has split into a cleaving appendage ideal for the butchering of daemonic creatures. Snaplimb thinks of little but the need to appease his god and attract the attention of his master for even the most fleeting of moments. 
Moritz Flaytooth 
Moritz is close to achieving the nirvana of Lusthowl. Little of his original personality remains, save for a few crazed recollections of his time amongst the ranks of a town militia. These martial remains have proven useful to the aims of Malign, and Moritz has caught the attention of the God-Eater on more than one occasion. Gifted with a Face of Malign, Flaytooth's head is slowly transforming into a fleshless skull, resplendent with two twitching, antennae like horns. Command is not to be the fate for Moritz, his mind is too deranged for tactical thought, but he serves his master faithfully and wants only to kill and be killed in Malign's ever hungry service. 

Udo Warpbeetle
Ambition cursed Udo, and that ambition continues to drive this servant of Malign to the present day. Though blessed by a Gift of the God-Eater, Udo remains locked out of the decision making in the warband, though this set back does little to limit his dreams of power. He is certain that one day he will replace Gregor as second in command and this will eventually lead to Udo contesting leadership with Matthias himself. For now, Udo is willing to bide his time and watch, seeking only to better himself in the eyes of his Patron until the day dawns for him to take his rightful place as the head of the warband. 

Oskar the Writhing
Oskar is different to the other warriors in the warband as he originally served another Dark Power. Crippled by a period of self doubt, Oskar found himself doubting the attentions of his chosen Power and Malign, ever willing to exploit such an emotion, chittered his seductive promises into this warrior's weakened ears. Abandoning his long held beliefs, Oskar embraced Malign wholeheartedly, murdering his fellows in the thick of battle and dedicating their daemonically tainted corpses to The Parasite. Oskar now lives to serve. He leaves the thinking to others within the warband and focuses on prowess in battle. His successes have seen him rewarded but such high favor has had unforeseen consequences, as Gregor is deeply envious of Malign's attentions and wrongly assumes that Oskar is the greatest threat to his position. 


Gotfreid Soulshiver
Depraved, twisted and despising company of any sort, Gotfreid serves as the warband's scout. He roams before the warband, revelling in his isolation and independence, tasked with leaving signs for the slower moving warriors to follow. Gotfreid is particularly suited to daemon hunting and once a location has been unearthed that may present with daemonic flesh to harvest, the Soulshiver sends out psychic thought patterns that attracts the mortal followers of Malign in their scores. Unsurprisingly, Matthias prefers to keep as close as possible to Gotreid's trail to ensure that he is first on the scene of any potential harvest. 
Bloateye Stagstalk

A step away from spawnhood, Stagstalk is Matthias' personal favourite and the champion hopes to unlock secret messages from his Patron in his pet's wild gibberings. Little more than a beast, Stagstalk indulges the only pleasures remaining to him, the wild joy of open battle and pleasing his master's every whim.

8 comments:

  1. A question though, how does one willing become a follower of Malign (If your not already a follower of Chaos with Emo self doubts) if you have to be atheist and upon death be confronted by Malign? As he thrives on being unknown and not believed in, how does one know he exists to be able to follow him. Apart from that great Article and a good old read.

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    1. Malign is not interested in being worshipped. His power stems from disbelief, arrogance and hypocrisy. His champions are hand picked either by him, or one of his daemonic agents. Primarily, his mortal and daemonic forces exist to destroy and harvest other daemonic entities so the few followers who choose to follow him directly would have extremely strong emotions concerning the destruction of daemonkind.

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  2. A great article! Right out of a 1989 White Dwarf! The backstory you've contructed for Malign and his followers is impressive work.
    I can't wait for this range of minis to be completed and released, they're just the ticket for fans of Oldhammer chaos. Hopefully in the not too distant future, we might even see new champions, thug type minions, daemons and beastmen!

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  3. Wow amazing background pal!! And all those super cool "old school" names...That really put the inspiration higher!

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  4. More interesting content than in the last 3(0?) White Dwarves together! I especially love the fact that you created a whole new deity, not a sub-god (covering some speciality) of an existing god. As mentioned before, very 19late80's WD article - you just need to follow up with a couple more articles, like 'The Panteon', 'The gifts', etc. (No pressure intended here ;-) )

    Some knitpicking at the end: if you want to stick with German first names Gotfreid should be Gottfried.

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  5. Cool story and love the blog, but one thing trips me up about the name of the new Chaos God... "Malign" is actually a word in English, and worse yet, is an adjective, not a noun. Did you consider a word like "Malig"? It's not an actual word in English but still connotes evil, as well being reminiscent of the other name that cannot be mentioned...

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  6. Excellent post. Just like WD used to be about (many, many years ago) looking forward to the models coming out too.

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