I’ve found that during the lockdown period I haven’t had quite as much time for building and painting as I originally expected – there’s an awful lot of housework needing done, especially as we’re no longer going out anywhere. I had managed to complete a couple of painting projects however, but a new and interesting opportunity arrived in the form of an Instagram challenge: Conjure a 5th Chaos God for Warhammer/40k and construct one of its daemons!
I haven’t played Games Workshop’s games for many years now and as such haven’t been buying any of their minis. The result being that my bitz box is very small indeed. That said, I did have enough parts to create something roughly humanoid and plenty of milliput and greenstuff to fill in the rest. It was a challenge, that’s for sure, but I felt I could give it a good try!
The challenge was posted in celebration of the old Realm of Chaos books from the early days of 40k (when it was Rogue Trader) and Warhammer 3rd Edition; Slaves to Darkness and The Lost and the Damned . These books detailed how players could create their own champions of Chaos and give them a unique patron god, with charts and tables to determine names, true names and what chaotic features and mutations may be manifested by devotees.
I took some inspiration from the books for my god (both of which I was lucky enough to grab off eBay when the price was still fairly low) but ultimately went my own way. I first had to decide what my new god should actually govern and work from that to develop a name and likely appearance for its daemons.
I admit that, ultimately, I had to work backwards. I have already mentioned my limited store of useable parts, so I had to make sense of the bits I could realistically put together. The results were not great: some Tomb Kings skeleton sprues, a 40k kroot sprue and assorted bits from Mordheim. What sort of god would have a daemon made from this?
Under the Influence
I really needed some inspiration, so took to Pinterest to look for “Dark Fantasy Art” and concept art for games like Dark Souls, Bloodborne and Blasphemous. I wasn’t looking for anything to copy; more, imagery to get me in the right frame of mind. Blasphemous turned out to be a great influence for what would become my daemon – several of the enemies in that game attack you with pieces of statues or are integrated into scenery elements. Pieces of Mordheim scenery began to look more useful – there must be a way I could incorporate them into the daemon.
I decided to use the body of a kroot as the foundation, with a spear arm and head from a skeleton, and an arm from a mid-2000s sculpt of a Tzeench Horror. I really wanted to avoid having the component parts too identifiable; the daemon should not make people think of something else when they see it; so I removed some of the kroot details like quills and spikes. I also had the idea that the daemon should be at least partially melded with whatever scenery element I used, so set about wrapping its body with milliput to represent this. This also helped conceal more of the original kroot details without resorting to lots of filing and cutting.
After toying with pillars, door frames and treasure chests, I settled on a window frame for the scenery element. More milliput was needed to fill in some details, but at least I had settled on which parts to use!
I was trying to come up with a god concept all the while I was sorting through the bitz box. I needed something distinct enough which wouldn’t be too closely related to the other gods. I had in mind the End Times phase of the Warhammer world and the general sense of looming dread the citizens of the Empire may feel, cowering in the knowledge their realm was beset by enemies on every side. I figured that what many people would want most was to keep everything out and be left alone – keeping their lives just as they are – so why not have a god who answers this particular prayer?
I decided there could be a God of the Keep or Miser God, prayed to by those who live in fear of drastic change and have something to lose; Lords fearing for their estates, business owners fearing for their financial stability, even peasants who fear losing their way of life or family to war, taxes, a military draft or any other change. The Miser God promises to keep everything just the way it is; hold on to your riches and loved ones – nothing shall change; your castle and keep shall be strengthened to hold back the world.
I had the concept, so next came the name. Latin is a fairly common source of names for many units in 40k, but for my god I needed something which sounds chaotic; something gutteral which can be growled as much as spoken. With this in mind I turned to Gaelic. I looked up appropiate words and phrases, which eventually gave me the name Chûd-tuhal, as derived from a phrase which means, “all your worldly possessions”.
“They’re coming outta the god-damn walls!”
With the god conceived I was then able to fully explain the design choice of the daemon and proceed with construction! Originally I had considered the daemon may just be carrying the window frame or be loosely attached to it, but the story became that these particular daemons would emerge from the walls of any properties protected by their god. I decided that sometimes the daemons may bring pieces of the structures with them as they set forth. In this case, the daemon must have emerged from a wall with a window.
The problem became how to make the window frame look like it was actually a part of the daemon. I didn’t want the window to sit flush across the daemon’s back as that could make painting awkward and limit the positions of the spear arm. I remembered an artist whose works I enjoy has a particular flair for skeletal figures – Zdzislaw Beksinski. I gave one of his books a quick skim and once again felt inspired!
The figures in Beksinski’s works are known for their large number of joints and bones, particularly in their arms and hands. One piece has a mass of skeletal figures running across a room, in through one wall and out via another, as a jumbled mass of limbs. I had plenty of limbs available thanks to the skeleton sprues so I thought I’d add some more arms to the daemon to connect it to the window and increase its unnerving, otherworldliness.
I was also inspired to add some more detail to the daemon’s body by way of some skeletal hands poking through the surface of the skin, as if the building they emerged from were in some way reluctant to let them go and so tries to maintain a grasp. This added to the sense of possessiveness which Chûd-tuhal governs and also helped to break up what would otherwise be a fairly featureless body.
I used more milliput to form smooth connections between limbs and window, and to add folds and creases across the body as if its skin were a wrap of some sort, possibly materials from the walls made malleable as it emerges. I also had to add some musculature to the skeletal spear arm to help it match the Horror arm. I dedcided to alter the weapon, slightly – the spearhead was replaced by a small spike so it became a goedendag: a weapon of the militias of 14th century Luxembourg.
The paint scheme I decided upon was also inspired by Beksinski. I mixed brown, grey and green to emulate Beksinski’s colours – I found they really conveyed a sense of dry dirtiness, giving the skin and bones a dry mud or baked clay-like appearance. I used some 25-year old Citadel Skaven Brown ink for the recesses and built up the layers with careful altering of the ratios of the base colour. Some drybrushing of white helped add texture.
I felt the colours were quite odd, so for a while I really wasn’t sure how the daemon would end up – I just built up the layers and hoped for the best. Typically enough, the vision became more clear as the first layers of highlights were added.
I decided to add a sigil to the daemon’s forehead in orange. This stark contrast would help break up the otherwise dull palette. The orange also helps give the impression that the sigil is radiating – a clear display of which god the daemon serves.
A benefit of the limited colour palette was that the daemon was relatively quick to paint once I had a clear vision of where to take it. To the base I had originally fixed some modelling lichen for another flash of colour. I was warned that this diverted the eye’s focus away from the daemon and more to the base, which was certainly not a good result! With this advice in mind I replaced the lichen with some Army Painter grass tufts. This improved the look by maintaining the dull palette and also further conveying the sense of old dryness.
Warder of Chûd-tuhal
With the painting nearing completion I had finally decided on a name for the daemon. The idea is that these daemons will emerge from the structures within an area dedicated to the Miser God to ward off any intruders who may disturb the peace, clubbing and jabbing at them with their goedendags. This made the choice of name simple enough: Warders.
Though I had a difficult start, I was glad I saw the project through to the end. I actually like the idea of the Miser God enough that I may create more daemons in future and they may even feature in games of Warhammer: Fantasy Roleplay or Dark Heresy.
The Miser God sits in opposition to both Nurgle and Tzeench. In his domain, nothing decays and nothing changes; everything remains just as it is, in blissful stasis. Those who fall to corruption no longer leave their homes and eventally may never even leave their chair – they sit clutching their most prized possessions, their bodies slowly merging with the building until they themselves are an ornament.