Now and then, I’ve been known to flick through the old Rogue Trader books on the train. One of them – the Book of the Astronomican – has this little old campaign called ‘The Wolf Time’, in which a tattered band of Space Wolves are trying to bring down an Ork warlord who’s all sealed away in his castle. They have a set list of forces to divide among three skirmishes, each of which represents an assault on one of the generators powering Warlord Kulo’s castle. They have to win at least one of these skirmishes in order to make their assault – winning two or three reduces the final defences further. Once those three games are over, the surviving Marines collect together to make their attack on Kulo. If it takes too long to play out one of the skirmishes, the Marines from that battle arrive late, and the target generator will still be contributing to the Ork defences until they arrive.
The other day I was thinking about how much sense the attack-the-generators-to-enable-the-final-strike scenario would work for an assault on a Necron tomb world (the context in which I’m most likely to play it). That set me to thinking about Dawn of War, in which the Necrons operate by building generators to bring their Monoliths online… so that gives us a final scenario in which the Monolith replaces the Castle.
Anyway, I was thinking about names too – ‘Kulo’ is not a name that inspires me, ‘crons-wise – and all of a sudden Takeshi’s Castle popped into my head as an appropriately Oldhammery name for a Monolith. Takeshi… Takeshi… that’s not a bad name for a Necron general, although it sounds strangely feminine. I think it’s that final vowel sound.
A female Phaeron would be an interesting echo for all those fantastic female Egyptian rulers – sort of a Hatshepsut/Nitocris figure, playing up the inherent gender obscurities and visibilities of the 40K-verse by being on the outside of Necrontyr history despite her capabilities but rising and rising in death through a series of elaborate tricks that eliminated her Phaeronic peer group. If they’re going to be Ancient Egyptian Death Robots In Space, might as well run with the source material. The community doesn’t seem intrinsically opposed to the idea, either – at least, it can be floated and not hated upon unilaterally (showing here, here and here, though opinion is, as might be expected, divided). And that set me off on matters of scale.
See, my army has one of the previous generation of Lords (the rather elegant one with the outstretched, taloned fingers), and four Pariahs that I’d like to do something with, and… well, thence is derived the thought of a Phaeron who still has at least some hints of femininity about her, and surrounds herself with an imposing, oversculpted, hypermasculinised Court as a kind of morbid echo of her former self.
It works for me, in the same sort of way that Master Necrotech Mortenebra or GLaDOS work for me; as a cold, alien metal creature which nevertheless maintains a feminine form and self-image, or perhaps the shreds of one. I might not go quite as far as to curve the model up and slap bewbs on it – might just rely on relative scale and pose and decorations to do the job.
Have I taken leave of my senses? You be the judge.