Thursday, 15 August 2019

Converting a New General - Part 1: Meet My Very Old General


I've decided to mark the release of Battletome: Cities of Sigmar by converting a new general to helm my Greywater Fastness force. The book isn't out yet, and I currently don't have any idea what I'll be converting my new general out of, what warscroll I'll use, or even what race they'll be - likely either a Freeguild General on Griffon or Warden King, or maybe even a Stormcast, very unlikely to be an aelf. I only currently know one thing about my future general, whoever he or she may be, and to explain it I'll have to explain Dargrimm, my long-suffering Warhammer general of almost 20 years...

There would be more paint on these if I hadn't wasted so much
time creating silly dioramas with them

If you've stumbled across this blog and have had time to check out the City Spotlight features, you likely suspect me of being some kind of abhorrent hobby parasite, content to leech glory and readership from the fruits of other people's hard work. In truth, while I am incredibly lazy, I'm also very excited to show more of my painted stuff here, but am currently away on holiday, with only a very W.I.P. Steam Tank and Gyrocopter with me to photograph, neither of them currently in a state worthy of much praise, so get ready to for a very silly sentimental article on a model I painted when I was 11.

The original White Dwarf article Dargrimm was inspired by

Dargrimm, despite being a dwarf did not in fact start life as general of a Dwarf army, and was conceived when expanded rules for Dogs of War generals in 5th edition Warhammer appeared in White Dwarf 234, allowing players to field non-human generals for their mercenary armies, with a selection of unique "Quirk of Character" options to choose from, each giving a bonus special rule - similar to being able to choose command traits in Age of Sigmar today. If you've not been involved with the hobby for long, you may never have heard of Dogs of War - if you're interested in finding out more, check out my recent retrospective on them.


I wanted a suitably roguish and unmistakable general to lead my Dogs of War, but alas, metal dwarf models are notoriously hard to convert, essentially being squished together masses of beard, barrel shaped-body and chainmail - hugely beyond the scope of my preadolescent abilities, and so I had to settle for a rather spectacular non conversion of the third version of Tom Thyksson, the rather cantankerous looking unit champion of Joseph Bugman's Dwarf Rangers, tilted on his one good foot to look like he's running.

While considerably "eh" today, Dargrimm's paintjob was above any beyond anything 11 year old me had previously painted - I'd layered and mixed paint, and painted his eye and everything (fun fact: his eye was never supposed to be looking back over his shoulder, but having never painted an eye before, I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to replicate it, and like to pretend he's just spotted an enemy unit about to flank charge). Dargrimm even had the honour of a place in my local Games Workshop store cabinet for a while, and I was so proud of his paint job that he'll probably go down as the first and last model I've ever bothered to varnish.

Dargrimm Firebeard

Dargrimm owes his name to Dargrimm Firebeard, a one-eyed dwarf warrior with a carroty complexion who'd appeared in the licensed PC game Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat a couple of years previously. I'd imagined that after the events of Shadow of the Horned Rat, Dargrimm Firebeard, inspired by the Grudgebringers, the game's Imperial mercenary protagonists, had quite fancied a mercenary army of his own, and had set off to Tilea to hire one.

If your eye's been drawn to Dargrimm's odd coloured axe it owes it's origins to dwarf mercenary generals not having access to the rules for customising their own boutique runic items available to the characters in Dwarf armies at the time, and having to make do with the comparatively generic magic items found on cards in Warhammer: Magic. I wanted Dargrimm to have a magic weapon that wasn't specifically a sword (swords don't look great on dwarfs), and eventually settled on the Ogre Blade (its name suggests it could be any weapon that isn't a mace or hammer). The axe is painted to look like it's made of bone, because the Ogre Blade's magic item card specifies that it's forged from bone, specifically ogre bone, and tween me was a stickler for WYSIWYG (I never got round to gluing a shield to Dargrimm, and so he never got his armour save bonus).


Leading my Dogs of War army through to the end of 5th edition until they lost the option to take non-human generals with 6th, Dargrimm quickly found his way back to the World's Edge mountains to lead my Dwarf army when the to this day still incredible 6th edition Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs was released in late 2000. Great weapons were king in 6th edition, and and this point I was quite glad I'd never glued a shield on him, as Ogre Blade was promptly downgraded to one. Dargrim lead my Dwarfs to the mist-shrouded isle of Albion in the Dark Shadows global campaign, against the Hordes of Archaon en route to Middenheim during the Storm of Chaos; and eventually against entire armies of ogres for the first time, set on getting their dead mates' bones back (if only to eat).

The trademark daft running pose lead to a reputation among my gaming group for making reckless (and often failed) hail Mary charges, and Dargrimm became such a fixture on the scene that when one friend fought against a Dwarf army at a local tournament featuring a unit lead by the same Bugman's champion mini he put all his resources into wiping out that unit all costs, only to realise that the offending model was only a unit champion too late and costing himself the game.

By now my painting had massively leveled up, and Dargrimm's continued appearances on the battlefield owed to an equal mix of laziness and habit. His silly wobbly pose even lead to him moonlighting as the head coach of my halfling Blood Bowl team (I envisioned it as a Cool Runnings type scenario with a dwarf coach tying to teach the halflings a sport they have no natural aptitude for). When the updated 6th edition Dwarf army book came out in 2005 with the option for generic Dwarf Lords to be held aloft by a pair of shieldbearers, Dargrimm briefly had his foot very precariously glued to King Alrik's shieldbearers (alas, I can't find any pictures of this) before I got bored of his constant falling off and needing to be reattached with a pin vice and glue him back onto his original base.

One of the only photos of Dargrimm I can recall taking during WFB -
I think I was trying to take a shot at unit fillers? Lost to time...

Sitting out most of 7th edition at the bottom of a miniatures case while I discovered employment and girls, Dargrimm was back in full force with 8th, leading a force of dwarfs by this point much better painted than him all the way to the End Times, fighting in vain for the fate of the world alongside Valten, Ungrimm Ironfist and Balthasar Gelt. He even got used in a few games of AoS when it first lauched, marching to war alongside the rest of my square-based duardin against legions of grey Stormcast Eternals, the Ogre Blade revitalised as a rather scary Damage 3 Runic Great weapon using the Dwarf Lord compendium warscroll!


When I set out to rebase my dwarfs for Warhammer World's Rise of the Seraphon doubles campaign weekend, my first AoS event in early 2016, I'd planned yanking Dargrimm off the 20mm Goblin Green square that his daft pose had ensured he'd fallen off on his own accord so many times, but something caught my eye. Dargrimm had chipped. After nigh 16 years of constant war, the only model I'd ever bothered to varnish was missing a chunk of paint fromm his knuckle. I momentarily weighed up cracking open my dusty old pots of Dwarf Flesh and Bleached Bone (long discontinued Citadel paints) and repairing the damage, or even finally painting up the shield I'd always intended to give him but never quite bothered to getting round to, but looking down at Dargrimm I realised that he must have fought his way through somewhere in the region of 500 games of Warhammer, and decided that Dargrimm had very likely been slain during the End Times, and ascended to the halls of his ancestors (a shelf above my hobby table), where he could enjoy a well earned rest, and proudly cast his gaze over the assembly and painting of his descendants (sneaking out every now and then to coach the latest incarnation of my Blood Bowl halflings...).


Fast forward a few years. It's 2019, AoS has hit its stride, the remnants of my Dwarf army now rub shoulders with humans and even a few aelves as part of what's soon to be a cities of Sigmar force, and I've decided I need an equally unmistakable new general to create a whole history leading them into battle. I'd played around with the idea of unleashing a new version of Dargrimm, having refused to die after however many thousands of years, gone all living ancestor and mounted in a towering Ironweld mech suit (likely based on an Armiger Warglaive), but decided against it for multiple reasons, foremost being that Dargrimm's earned his retirement, and that another olde worlde dwaf running around would probably undermine the whole last son of Krypton thing Gotrek's got going for him in AoS.

Dargrimm might have perished on Mallus (he's probably been scooped up and forged into Sigmarite that your Stormcast are wearing right now), but if Ghal-Maraz, Karaghul, and even Valnir the Reaper's flail can survive into the Age of Sigmar, there's no reason why the Ogre Blade can't endured into the new setting, ending up in the hands of a determined new commander and tangentially bridging the narrative of my new AoS army with my old WFB armies. Heck, there's been a whole lot of commotion about ogors and bones recently, so it looks like I couldn't have picked a better time for Dargrimm's trademark odd-looking weapon to establish itself in the Mortal Realms. I've got a spare version of the original axe in my bits box, it's just a matter of deciding who to bequeath it to.


As I said opening the article, I'm not going to make up my mind on who wields the Ogre Blade until I've got the new battletome, but I can't wait to post the resulting conversion and backstory here!

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