It started, the way these things often do, on Facebook.
A chap on the Oldhammer community did proclaim a spot of bother with making up his very own Space Marine Chapter, and asked the peanut gallery to share theirs as inspiration. Naturally, I linked him to the Lightbringers and the Knights of Ashteth on this blog, and thought that was that.
Little did I know that the startlingly original connection between Dark Angels and Lucifer the Lightbringer had already been made by SEVERAL PEOPLE. We had a laugh about it, but it got me to thinking.
Among other things, the name ‘Harbingers of Skulls’ started to rattle around my anguished noggin. These superlative V:tM antagonists are intimately bound with the funerary rites, Cappadocian landscape and general air of morbid vengefulness which saturate the Lightbringers all the way down.
Apropos of nothing, I’d logged into Bolter and Chainsword for the first time in about eight years, to discuss Kill Team and matters pertaining thereto.
Bolter and Chainsword has a guide to writing Index Astartes articles. It’s long – and at first I balked at its length, but in places it’s quite insightful, or at least it reminded me of some Rules of Good Writing which I really should have applied to the Lightbringers in the first place.
As I came to re-inspect the article, I realised that they are, thematically speaking, crowded. There’s a lot going on – a lot of unique names, a lot of dark conspiracies, and at least one ‘plot hole’ regarding ancestor worship and the silence of Dreadnoughts. I think I realised this at the time and left it until I could be arsed thinking about it again.
Bolter and Chainsword also has a Space Marine painting tool, and I was idly playing around with this, wondering what a Lightbringer would actually look like in miniature. Gold armour was bearable in the Dawn of War painter but would look rubbish on actual models, so I began thinking about other colours.
The thing is, the Bolter and Chainsword army painted happens to use the old Citadel Colour range, including the Foundation paints, including Dheneb Stone and Charadon Granite. These were the first of my Foundations to go – I really liked the stony, dusty, almost ceramic look they had to them, and I also really like to emphasise the ‘ceramite’ part of Space Marine armour.
So, I got to experimenting with a few different variants on a theme.
The first example, shown here, combines the original gold with a bisected dark/light stone scheme beneath. The locations of light and dark, the specific treatment of the eagle, and the odd deviations (such as the metallic wristbands) soon came to bear an ominous symbolic relevance. They also reminded me of the Harbingers of Skulls’ emblem: the bisected black and white mask, either superimposed on the antitribu ‘spike shield’ or not.
The second example is a straight-up rendition of the dark/light stone scheme, divested of the last trappings of the Lightbringers concept for the time being. Almost as though the gold had been applied to conceal something, divert attention from an otherwise screamingly obvious set of semiotic clues as to the Chapter’s nature, origins and fate.
While I was working on the second I conceived the third: an attempt at the more complex ‘quartered’ aesthetic. I’ve seen this look OK on actual miniatures; I’ve also seen it look less than OK in the hands of the cack-handed.
The fourth example is a variation on that theme with an attempt to bring out the ‘helmeted skull’ possibilities of the masklike Marine visage, and to make the shoulderpads more viable for visible insignia.
As I type this, that concept of ‘a clue to their origins’ resounds, and I’m reminded that the Bolter and Chainsword’s painter suggests Orkhide Shade as an approximation for Charadon Granite. Well – not strictly. It admits that the match is poor. “They’re different colours, but if you want to…” Of course, Orkhide Shade is an ideal basecoat for dark green armour, like what Dark Angels wear. Dark green also sits well with Shining Gold, which has a certain greenish hue to it (at least, my carefully husbanded third-or-so of a pot does). That’s where this fellow comes from:
Anyway, THAT got me to thinking about having a quick scan of the old Lexicanium to see if the name ‘Harbingers’ was already claimed, in any of its forms. I knew the actual Harbingers Chapter were garishly coloured Space Brummies, but… oh ho. What’s this?
Well bugger me. Small world, innit?
CURRENTLY PLAYING: ‘watch the installers install’. I’ve just replaced my ageing laptop with a garish piece of capitalism masquerading as a new desktop PC. In a terrifying moment of synchronicity, the old one’s lid hinge gave up the ghost within SECONDS of me opening the box containing the new machine. Anyway, that’s why I have time on my hands to sit around thinking about Space Marines today.
CURRENTLY HOCKING: some spare Scourge (DZC), Trollbloods (Hordes) and Orks (40K/Oldhammer). While I am by no means in a state of financial crisis, the startup costs for Hark’s Art Shoppe (inspect on Instagram, buy on Etsy, plug on Facebook) have put a limit on my purchasing power. Most inconvenient when one’s in the mood for Capitalism.
CURRENTLY CONTEMPLATING: all the various symbolic and narrative parallels existing between the Battle for Calth and Dark Vengeance starter sets (has it occurred to anyone else that the addition of a Terminator Lord to the Chaos army in DV would give a SUPERB before/after image of the same company, at the other end of the Long War, whittled down to a handful of Marines and an ill-maintained Dreadnought?) Also contemplating the building of small (emphasis small) armies from the Dark Vengeance set, expressing a moment of schism within the same Chapter? Dark Angels excel at punishing wayward Chaos Space Marines. Crimson Slaughter hate Dark Angels. All of these mechanical capacities fit into my existing design. Also reflecting on Kill Team and how a Kill Team force can almost, almost justify the use of Forge World components. Yes, they are expensive, but when one is only going to be building one or two squads of dudes, they are merely obnoxious rather than unaffordable in their pricing.