Introduction to the Void Hornets
Void Hornets basic rules, explanation of masks
Void Hornets stratagem and alternate Exarch powers (a la Phoenix Rising), shrine color scheme examples
Selgairhán, Phoenix Lord of the Void Hornets Aspect
(you can click on the images for full-size verions)
The initial idea for this grew out of the concept that Eldar Corsairs jet packs were inspired by something from the Asuryani. Since there are many minor Aspects for which there are no official rules, I decided that there might be some minor Aspect that served as the inspiration to the Corsairs. There were two competing ideas initially. The first was a derivation of an idea I had two decades ago - some Aspect that invoked something bestial and used claws. The second was an Aspect that would draw upon both Storm Guardians and Eldar Corsairs, using pistols and swords. In the end, I decided that I couldn't put the jet packs and claws together well, so I went with the pistols and swords (I might do the claws Aspect later). The concept of boarding parties set in pretty quickly. Initially, I wanted to give everyone fusion pistols and Aeldari blades. My understanding of fusion pistols, though, is that they superheat the air between them and the target (like meltaguns). Since this Aspect is supposed to function in the void, though, I wasn't sure if that would work. Yes, I know this is a game with space magic and all that, and fusion guns/meltaguns aren't adversely affected in void combat in the rules. However, I wanted things to work as realistically as possible. For this reason, I also avoided dissonance pistols. Knowing that I wanted a pistol to be one of the weapons, I focused on the signature weapons of the Aeldari. The two foremost among these are shuriken weapons and laser weapons. There was a great sketch in the 3rd edition Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook that had what looked like a laser pistol:
The problem with this is that the old Eldar laspistol bits from 2nd edition don't look like that (see the top left corner). Knowing that I wouldn't be able to convert anything great, I had to focus on something a bit more simplistic and readily available. So I settled on the shuriken pistol. This worked well with the concept of this Aspect being a sort of Storm Guardian +.
Then I had to shift to the sword. The Howling Banshees use power swords and the Striking Scorpions use chainswords. The Storm Guardians use both Aeldari blades and chainswords. Since I knew this Aspect was going to use heavy Aspect armour (rationalized as armour hardened for the void), it seemed likely that I would use one of three models as the basis for a [simple] conversion: Striking Scorpions, Warp Spiders, or Fire Dragons. Ultimately, the Striking Scorpions offered the easiest option since they are already equipped with a pistol/sword combination. What I didn't want, though, was for this Aspect to be better than the Howling Banshees or Striking Scorpions, the best known of the melee combat Aspects. There had to be trade-offs to make this Aspect comparable, or perhaps slightly worse [under normal circumstances]. The specialization in void combat and the use of the jet packs already provided a distinction, comparable to the acrobatics and Banshee masks of the Howling Banshees and the stealth and mandiblasters of the Striking Scorpions. So the swords had to be something either less than or between the power swords and chainswords. The Warp Spider Exarchs use paired power blades, but I didn't want to use that implementation (forearm-mounted). Instead, I drew inspiration from the Amallyn Shadowguide miniature from the Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress game:
This worked well with the concept - a shorter weapon for use in the close Zone Mortalis confines of a ship boarding action. From a conversion perspective, I might take the blades of the Howling Banshees and shorten them a bit, attaching them to the Striking Scorpions models (after removing the chainswords). I'll probably keep the chainsword grips, hilts, and knuckleguards (despite the images shown in the rules).
The key thing that created the identity of this Aspect, however, was this old concept image:
Those look like normal Aeldari, comparable to Storm Guardians, but employed on ship. That art temporarily drove the idea of the Exarch being able to take a plasma pistol, but I don't recall any such bits for the Aeldari, so I dropped that train. The big takeaway, though, was the helmets. In many ways, those look a lot like the masks used by Warlocks, though the psykers don't use the breathing hoses. Since each Aspect has a unique mask, I figured I could chop the heads off of Warlock models for use as this Aspect. I'd previously considered the "Knights" naming convention that was part of the Dire Avengers concepts, possibly using Dire Avengers heads and having some "Knight" name for the Aspect. When I shifted to the Warlock head combined with the Striking Scorpions bodies and the jet packs/wings, though, I shifted over to "Hornets" and "Wasps" as the basis. I really wanted to use the tabards, too, as the concept on the right, but the Striking Scorpions models don't have those and I would have hosed up any conversion attempt.
I wanted the jet pack to be slightly different from that of the Corsairs, largely because it's difficult to come by those bits. So I wanted something that would evoke the Corsair jet pack while being different. I figured anyone interested in converting any of these minis (which is probably juse me, but there might be some other crazy person out there) could just use some plasticard and cut into the backpack of the Striking Scorpions models for attachments. In concept, the wings fold down when not in use, spring out only when needed. If I ever get around to converting these guys, I'll include lots of pictures.
One indulgence I incorporated was the star glove. The reality of this is that I still have some of the old 2nd edition Eldar power gloves and I wanted to be able to use those. I figured that it would be similar to the Scorpion's Claw, but more of a glove. Since the Void Hornets are used for boarding actions, I wanted a way for the Aspect warriors to be able to breach a ship's hull or heavy doors. Since the main Aspect warriors use meltabombs (after I took away the fusion pistols), I figured the Exarch might just punch through things.
For the alternate Exarch powers, I looked at those for the other Aspects in Phoenix Rising and took one from each (up to six). I chose those that I felt were most appropriate to the concept. Another thing I wanted to represent was the possibility of some later Exarch developing into Phoenix Lord level (see my post in this topic for the theory). So three of the powers simply allow an Exarch to approach the Phoenix Lord in development, with the others serving as variations on a theme.
With regard to the Phoenix Lord, Selgairhán, I just made her an Exarch +. Her stat line is comparable to the other Phoenix Lords. Her Blade of Vengeance is just a master-crafted power blade, and the Glove of Doltoriel is a power glove/fusion pistol combination. Like Asurmen, she has a forceshield. I think that the number and potency of her abilities is balanced relative to the other Phoenix Lords.
As for the artwork, I owe a debt of gratitude to Ioldanach. Though he couldn't send the painter file that he uses for his Corsairs, he did send the basic outline and a description of the process he used to create his Corsair painter. I adapted that process, removing or adjusting the Corsair bits and incorporating elements from the Striking Scorpions (armour banding, inner thigh plate, arms and weapons, backpack), Warlock (mask/helmet), Howling Banshee (power blade and female armour plates), and Storm Guardian (helmet plume). It was a pretty painful process and distracted me from other things for the better part of a week, but I'm pretty happy with it. I plan on creating a few Exarch images, too, but first I need to create those layers, which will take some time. A few of the full size shrine schemes are shown below. From left to right they represent the Venom Swarm , Dread Mask, and Shadowed Strike shrines (with Venom Swarm representing a "basic" scheme for this Aspect):
You'll note that I included females. One thing that has always bugged me about the various Aspect Warrior models is that they tend to be of a single gender. All of the Aspect Warriors are all male, with the exception of the Howling Banshees, which are all female. Neither exclusion ever worked for me. In my mind, the various Aspects should be relatively evenly split gender-wise, with the exception of the Howling Banshees, who should be predominantly female. So even though my models will be all male because I'm using the Striking Scorpions as the basis of the conversion, I wanted to depict the more likely diversity in the images. I also applied this to the Phoenix Lord, making Selgairhán a female.
As I said at the beginning, this is just a first draft. There are some things I'm considering changing in order to establish the proper balance [with the other Aspects]:
- replacing power blades with Aeldari blades (Exarch can take a power blade, or twin power blades)
- replacing shuriken pistols with laspistols+ (only if the power blades are retained - laspistols+ would be better than regular laspistols the way Avenger shuriken catapults are better than regular shuriken catapults and the way lasblasters are better than regular lasguns)
- something else?