Getting the band together

The band made history when they became the first non-Orcs to perform at the Waaaghken festival

It is all but guaranteed that any civilised settlement will possess within its boundaries at least one tavern, hostel or other such communal centre. These are places for locals and travellers to gather, drink and, of course, sing.

Many inns will allow - encourage, even - skilled bards and minstrels to entertain the patrons. Happy customers spend more freely and if the musician is even halfway competent then the least they can expect in return is food and lodgings for the night.

Of course, in an age in which news travels swiftly only for those with coin to tempt it, most folk rely on the accumulated knowledge of history to guide their decisions and give them hope in lean times. The "oral tradition" scholars call it, but this diminishes the spiritual depth of joining one's voice to a choir which stretches back generations and keeps fresh the wisdom earned by those who are long since departed.

On occasion, talented individuals will group together in performing troupes, roaming the lands seeking fame and, more than this, fortune.

Such a band emerged from the foothills of Jeldenburg and has since proven worthy of a mention in the chronicles of the Tallowlands...

 Founding members

Anbeth Willowbrook

A daughter of the Oakleafen, Willowbrook is an accompanist par excellence. Had she been born to human or dwarfen parents her talents would almost certainly have been lauded and nurtured. However, the wood elves are a more self-centred folk and respect only the virtuoso and the soloist. Therefore her sympathetic and collective approach was sneered at and considered somewhat inferior.

After a time, Willowbrook came to realise that she would never find musical fulfillment within the boughs of Oakhall and undertook to depart the forest, never to return until her music was considered fit for the halls of lords and nobles.

This happened within a week.

After leaving Oakhall, she travelled west towards Jeldenburg. On her first night in human lands she arrived at the town of Yuldpass where, purely by chance, she met Horst vander Jeld, royal minstrel to the Demiprince Arnhuus. He invited her to join him in performing at the tavern that evening; after the opening, unrehearsed song he insisted that she perform with his troupe at the palace the following evening.

Despite being a little suspicious she agreed and was stunned to discover how highly humans valued her skill at weaving rhythms for the other musicians to work with. She remained in residence at the palace for a number of weeks - unsure of whether she could really return return to Oakhall so soon, or if she even wanted to - until one day she met Helen Highwater and chose to join her in the wandering life.

It is unclear whether Anbeth is her true name or a pseudonym to help her avoid the stigma of association with the belligerent Oakleafen when in human lands.


Helen Highwater

A gnome from the near East, Highwater travelled the Jeldenburg circuit for some time before her meeting with Anbeth Willowbrook. Despite her stature she has a strong and charming voice which, coupled with her easy humour and excellent sense of timing, makes her an ideal frontwoman for the band.

She is not the most capable lyrist, but in truth she plays it only to help her stay in tune when the crowd gets rowdy.

 Tomlin Picc

Picc was only supposed to be passing through Jeldenburg when he heard that Willowbrook and Highwater were looking for musicians to join their group. He had seen Highwater performing two nights previously and been impressed, so sought them out.
His playstyle is heavier than the classical tradition would dictate, partly as a result of spending considerable time playing with a dwarfen troupe from the hold of Kanderbad - in order to keep up with the horns he learned to modulate his own volume and use the echoes inherent in dwarfhall acoustics to boost his sound when playing melody.
It is a point of some interest that he is one of the few humans to have had his playing recorded. Recording music, as everyone knows, requires vast magical resources (not only for the recording, but also the listening) and in practice is available only to a few extremely wealthy dwarfs.  During his time in Kanderbad he worked on a few sessions for the legendary Pol Makka when he was recording the groundbreaking Band on the Rune.

 Rei Barleysheaf

Last of the founding members to join, Barleysheaf was heard by Willowbrook playing flute while she waited for a stagecoach out of town. Her ethereal manner of playing provides a new dimension for the band and allows them to explore some less boisterous musical avenues.

Joining the band represented a significant upturn in her professional fortunes - the stagecoach she was waiting for was to take her home, having run out of money. This was partly due to her having adopted the stage name Rei Gunne, which left audiences and critics baffled. Since joining the band, however, she has flourished and her distinctive manner of playing is now recognisable across the lands.

Inexplicably popular with male crowds.

Later members


Rhuston Va

An ex-rogue, his thieving days came to an abrupt halt when he was struck by a runaway cart while crossing the road ("I used to be an adventurer, but then I took a barrow to the knee"). In need of alternative work, he discovered that dextrous fingers were well employed in playing the mandolin.

Confident by nature, he is an excellent sidekick to the egregious Helen Highwater and a well-matched foil for the more understated Anbeth Willowbrook.

His signature style is to play using the neck of a glass bottle or an appropriately-sized bone from a vanquished foe (or, more likely, last night's chicken dinner). This is a technique he first encountered during the band's brief but eventful stay with Clan Morris.

As an aside, this model was an early attempt at using the grisaille method of painting.

Profile: Alaster of Meici’s Trail

The fall of the Sinian Empire saw many denizens of the southern reaches escape across the border into the Southern Fiefdoms. Most fled only when the tides of catastrophe broke on their doorsteps, hurriedly leaving their homes behind, carrying the few possessions they could snatch up in haste.

A lucky few left sooner, either through canny foresight or pure coincidence. Among their number was Alaster. A professional lockpick by trade, by sheer fortune he was abroad working on behalf of the Locksmiths' Guild when his homeland was laid to waste. As news of the unfolding disaster reached the Southern Fiefdoms it became clear that he had no hope of returning. Like many others at that time he joined Meici's Trail, the vast refugee caravan which wound through the towns and villages between the dark fief of Wallovia and the sea.

Leaving the Trail after a dispute, Alaster determined to rebuild his life. He travelled west towards Narya in the hopes of resuming his association with the Guild. En route he encountered an old contact who hired him - along with an eclectic band of rogues and wanderers - to perform a dangerous but lucrative job.

Discovering that his skills were well suited to the adventuring life, Alaster soon warmed to life on the road with his new companions. As well as being a lockpick by trade - and an extremely good one at that - he quickly learned to shoot with some aptitude and became integral to his group's successes.

In the course of his roaming Alaster has reacquainted himself with the Guild, who are themselves very keen to retain him as an affiliated professional.

Most recently, he has been seen putting to sea with an elf, a dwarf and a...nother elf. It is rumoured that they are hunting a kraken, although their possible reasons for wishing to do so are, to most people, entirely unfathomable.

 Heroes of the Goretide

Now, a blood cult of mighty warriors wouldn't really be complete without at least a few... mighty warriors, would it?

A barbarian horde wouldn't really be a compelte without adequate representation of the whole community. After all, history is full of badass warrior women, and as "Khorne cares not from where the blood flows", I'm sure theres no care given as to the gender of whomever shed it either. Unfortunately the range of Bloodbound warriors is a little short of female representation. 

Happily the Stormcast range is ripe for pilfering. Thanks to my local Warhammer store having a birthday, and the manager being a jolly decent chap, I managed to get my hands on just the right model... and heavily converted it to suit my purposes. 

meet Annie Kuhlsdaughter, Exalted Deathbringer of the Goretide

A mighty warrior maiden of the Tallowlands Goiretide, Annie such a ferocious and formiddable opponent that she is rumoured to be the daughter of the legendary hero Korghos Khul. This is a possibility, Korghos Khul was in the Tallowlands the season that Roralarach shared the sky with Lady Lisu turning the sky pink as The Lady's protection countered The Rage of Roralarach. On this rare occurrence it is possible for those who were under the thrall of the goretide to be subverted by Shala, the goddess of fertility, not for nothing is the rare event known as The moons of Lust. No one has been able to varify Annie's parentage, but the title has stuck and she seems to be doing a good job of living up to it.   

 modelling notes: Yet again I dug into the citadel skulls set for basing details, as you've no doubt noticed I've done with most of my heroes, after making a nice flat topped slate rock out of milliput. I then removed the cloak, loincloth, spaulders, and stomcast details from Larissa Shadowstalker, and replaced her spear tip with the most appropriate daemon blade from the fantastic selection in the wrathmonger/skullreaper set, and replaced her stormcast back symbol with a nice rack of skulls, again from the skullreaper set. All that was left was some greenstuff detailing on the armour plates to bring it into line with the other bloodbound heroes. 

I decided that painting her with a bare midriff, rather than a full torso sculpted breastpalte, would not only give her a badass set of abs that the most elite crossfitter would be jealous of, but, it'd be much more in keeping with the barbarian feel of the other semi-naked bloodbound heroes. 

Her Impaling Spear is magnetised at the wrist, because it'd have such a minimal chance of surviving a trip...anywhere... if that flimsy piece of plastic was glued at such a tangental angle to the rest of the model. it also means that it just pops off if it gets caught on anything, rather than breaking.   

 Heroes of the Goretide

You have a flag to follow, you have a spiritual leader to excite your devotees and rouse them into a frenzy, so how do you control and guide these frothing loonies if they start running in the wrong direction?

With a multi chorded whip of course!

enter Flengnir the HerdsmanBloodstoker of the Goretide. 

This one is just a great model. He's fat and he's nasty, briutal and mutillated, there to flog your own  troops as much as the enemy, the fantasy equivalent of a Commissar... with a really sadistic twist. 

I love this model, and following suggestions to fully embrace the dabbled with Norse theme, I went with the bright blond hair, which was quite enjoyable to do. 

I've not yet fielded this chap in Age of Sigmar, because I'm still working on a Skulltake Battalion for him to lead, but the other bloodstoker I painted (who ended up pale and ginger) was a lot of fun to play in both Silver Tower and Gorechosen. 

 Heroes of the Goretide

What does any community, or cult, need? 

A spiritual leader, A mighty priest. 

Father Torpal, Slaughterpriest, Spiritual leader of the Goretide.

Having painted both slaughterpriest variants for my Gorechosen set, I decided that I wanted a slight variation, to enhance the model with a feel of more wizdom, more menace, more power... I also had a spare head from the aspiring deathbringer with impaling spear, and I've always been a fan of Rob Zombie I figured that the Hellbilly leading my rampaging horde of frothing maniacs down from the hills would be a fitting tribute. it just took a bit of trimming and a few whisps of greenstuff hair and the work was done. 

In painting this I was, again, playing with the skin technique and vibrant red effects. It needed a bit of a contrast and I felt the grey hair would add a touch of authority and wisdom to the model. The eyes are deliberately white (again as a tribute to the Hellbilly Deluxe cover) because they give the impression of a trance or ritual as he communes with his god offering up the sacrifice he's just made, with his blood drenched wrath hammer, in the hopes of a boon.

 Heroes of the Goretide.

Where to start when chronicling the mighty heroes leading the Goretide accross the Plains of Skulldonia whenever the red moon shines?

With the strongest?

With the most notorious?

With the most visible?

With a Flag! Everyone loves a good flag, and you need a flag to follow into battle!

Thus I present Sigurd the Totoem Bearer Bloodsecrator of the Goretide

A fun model to paint, this one was a trial of a skin technique recommended by Apologist (of course I did my own variation on the suggestion, which is why I got quite different results), I like it and have stuck with this style on the heroes I've done so far. I was also playing around with the reds, attempting to get a shiny blood droplet effect on the totem its self, to contrast with the white bone surround. 

Sigurd was instrumental in combatting the machinations of Nathaniel Hultz and his minions of the Changer, the mighty totem of Roralarach proving to be the bane of wizards, whilst whipping the reavers of the Goretide into a fighting frenzy. 

Profile: ‘Ardnog Squigtamer


"An DIS little squiggy goes RARRGNASHCHOMPBLARRRRG all da way 'ome."

Hailing from the Grotonnian satellite township of Gnashville, Squigtamer is a rare example of a genuine goblin success story. He made his fortune as a highly successful squig trainer, with some dozens of champion gnasher squigs emerging from his stables. Having amassed significant wealth on the face-eating circuit* he came to the attention of the king of Grotonnia and now oversees the royal stable on those occasions when the king does not like, trust or remember the name of the official Royal Squig-herd.

His days as an active trainer are largely behind him and the majority of his time is now dedicated to his popular Gnashcar team.

A point of some interest to scholars of Grotonnian lore - all two of them - is that the word 'Nog' is in fact dwarfish and has no roots in any branch of the goblin language. Such nomenclature is highly unusual in goblin society and considering the historic animosity between goblins and dwarfs is normally intended as an insult. In this instance it is unclear which party is expected to take the most offence.

*The famed Orc face-eating contests require a constant supply of squigs. Enterprising goblin hustlers will sometimes challenge Orcs to eat their squigs, on the basis that if the squig wins then the goblin gets to keep all the deceased Orc's possessions. Such goblins have an extremely short life expectancy, but those who survive invariably become exceptionally rich.

The Celestial Navigation of the Tallowlands

In common with many pocket planes, the Tallowlands are not bound to a particular realm. Occupying, as it does, a fold in realmspace, the world drifts on the ether-currents in the vast sky-ocean between the realms.

It is unknown how the world came to exist detached from the Great Spheres, but travellers through the realmgates occasionally bring rumours of other such worlds floating in their own autonomous pouch of existence.

Scholars have devoted years - lifetimes, even - of study to codifying the exact nature of the world's relationship with the surrounding cosmos. The most widely-accepted theory was first proposed by the great cosmochronologician von Marrison in his seminal treatise Astralle Weekes:

"That the realms are mighty cannot be questioned. But none sits so far above the rest that it can capture this world of ours for its own. Instead we travel an infinite circuit between the realms, sharing in the powers of each as we pass near.

Seasons hinge on our proximity and facing; indeed, as one side of the world turns away from a realm, another side shows itself to the sphere. Thus, as we face, say, Ghyran, do our forests bloom and our orchards blossom. Then, as our attention turns to Hysh we find our days stretch on in unbroken hours."

In short, it appears that the world's position between the realms directly causes its seasons and climates. This idea was expanded by the lizardman philosopher Tinkenhat in his sandstone carvings - now fully eroded but quoted at length by de Robilant in his Histories

"To us they seem so near as to be moons yet to them we are but a distant speck, a tiny fly in a barrel of ointment*"

The notion that the moons of the Tallowlands are in fact other realms is intriguing and explains why the normally-inert realmgates thrum with vitality when particular moons are in the ascendency and the magical forces fluctuate with the lunar tides.

As a side note, a small handful of goblin tribes are known to chase the various moons across the Tallowlands in the belief that, were they to catch one of them, they would achieve immeasurable power. This theory does suggest that these excessively insane greenskins are, rather disconcertingly, right.

*This last metaphor is likely de Robilant's own addition - flies in Tinkenhat's home jungle are rarely less than fist-sized, and lizardmen have no known concept of ointment.

Painting progress: Hilgoth

 A new faction, sort of!

I have always wanted to paint Bretonnians, although obviously Bretonnia doesn't exist in the Tallowlands and never has done. The faction background will be posted at a later date, i.e. when I have written it.


 I have started with the glorious mid-2000's Questing Knights because why not start with the best? First three knights painted. Bases to follow - I will be using milliput for these, which is a new experience for me and I want to practice on some lesser knights first...

                            Four symbols for the musician. Bonus points if you can spot the fifth.
The two unpainted shields will be done in the colours of the musician and the (as yet unpainted) other non-champion model. The champion can make his own arrangements.
A little advertising for the PCRC.

Hope you like them.

Faction: House Oakleaf

Lady Amberjill

An old noble house from the south-western reaches of Acheall*, whose groves encircle the largest frith-geard in all the Elven lands. Despite the harmony of their homeland, the Aclēafen are highly militarised and more aggressive than many of their neighbours. While long-established trade routes with human settlements (most notably Jeldenburg and Mirrorkeep) have maintained the House’s coffers even when other elves saw their resources dwindle, the Aclēafen have little fondness for humans, dwarves, or even many other elves, and have historically been swift to capitalise on any weakness shown by peoples whose lands border their own.

When the Felltide struck Acheall, the Aclēafen were the first House to send assistance to the northern boughs. Although they remain disliked by many of the wood-elf nations, it has never been denied that their unflinching defence was most likely what saved Acheall from being entirely destroyed before outside aid belatedly arrived.

Magic permeates much of the Aclēafen land (although this is not unusual around Acheall) and many faerie-dells and feysprings can be found in their territory. Whilst technically outside of the elven military structure, and strictly speaking not subjects of the Lord or Lady of the House, the spellweavers of the land are bound closely to the House through ancient pacts of protection and will not hesitate to fight alongside the House’s soldiers to protect their lands.

The current highborn is Lady Amberjill Vala Aclēafen.

*Which many of the peasant races know as "Oakhall".

Faction: Heralds of the New Dawn


Checkers, chestplates and...some sort of chocobo.

The Heralds of the New Dawn are a minor sect of Primaris Bretonnians who believe that the best way to gather followers for their god is through highly visible acts of valour and public exhortations of the faithful. Whilst lacking somewhat in subtlety, their willingness to deliver actual practical aid to those in need has made them - and by extension their patron - extremely popular in the area around their stronghold of Szarno.

The fall of Wallovia

The tale I tell is one of woe, of blackest deeds and divine retribution. Long ago, the kingdom of Wallovia waxed mightily, its armies strong of arm, its forges burning night and day. Wallovia’s people were industrious, hardy, dour and serious folk. Jesters, clowns and travelling players learned to avoid the kingdom, given the Wallovians’ lack of interest in frivolity. Its ruling class kept to themselves and while outwardly they appeared noble and possessed of martial virtues in abundance, over generations of courtly intrigue family trees became dense and tangled, with cousin marrying cousin. This bred into the royal line a terrible temper that when provoked could rage like a burning fire and leave only ashes in its wake. 

Despite its wealth and power, Wallovia was at a crossroads for the new king, formerly Prince Valentine of the Western Marches, had spent much of his life abroad, travelling the realms and learning of the new ways, until his father’s untimely death forced him to return and assume the crown. His attempts to reform the kingdom sat ill with much of his subjects, for many and old were the traditions that they clung to. 

All too often, the young King would propose a grand new project only to be told by the priests and priestesses of Mortaine — the God of Death — that the ancestor-spirits advised against it. Always they gave sage council, for in truth Valentine knew little of his kingdom. He knew even less of the floods and storms that struck once every 10-score years or so and had made a ruin of many a promising architect. To the spirits of the long departed and by extension the priesthood, such events could be recalled at a whim. Over time Valentine grew obstinate and sour, made worse by his queen Katherina’s insinuation that the priesthood were the true rulers of the kingdom, not he. 

Matters came to a head when in one council meeting the priesthood had dismissed Valentine’s plans for new grain silos on grounds that his proposed site was too close to the marshes, so the grain would rot. The next item on the agenda, his decision to grant a trading delegation of the Khardron Overlords the right to build a sky port on land that had once been mined for tin again met with dismay bordering on derision. Surely, said Father Dou’gall – the oldest and wisest of the priests, the young king must see that such a heavy structure would quickly fall victim to sink holes and subsidence if built upon such ground? Finally, the priesthood dared to argue that Valentine’s proposed annexation of the nearby (and much weaker) kingdom of Ostvanland would quickly become bogged down due to the rains that frequently turned the roads between the two nations into seas of stinking mud. Father Dou’gall took great pains to explain that such had been the fate of an army led by Valentine’s great-great-grandfather over two hundred years ago and even summoned the shade of the young king’s ancestor to tell the tale. 

After the meeting had concluded, four of the king’s most loyal — and unscrupulous — knights overheard their liege lord mutter “who will rid me of these troublesome priests?”. Keen to serve his will, the knights rode out and put every last one of the priests to the sword and spilled Father Dou’gall’s brains across his own altar. 

Valentine appeared to be shocked to hear of his bondsmen’s deeds but was secretly pleased to be free of the priesthood’s prattling. As two of the knights were relatives of his queen he could not punish them to the fullest extent of the law, instead settling for posting them to guard the most remote corners of the kingdom. 

Despite a grim sense of foreboding among many, at first all was well and the people seemed blessed rather than cursed, their elders seemingly endowed with long life. It wasn’t until a series of bizarre instances began that the Wallovians understood what Mortaine had in store for them.

It began with a simple case of bad luck. Gregor, a young clumsy squire, was riding his horse in a practise joust when it fell and crushed his leg. Despite the best efforts of the healers, it became infected and while they immediately amputated the now useless limb gangrene had spread to his body. Despite untold agony, Gregor simply wouldn’t die. It wasn’t until he bit off his own tongue that his screaming stopped. Gregor was the first for whom the sweet mercy of death would prove elusive, but he was by no means the last.

At first there were a few cases, then before long everyone in the kingdom who simply wouldn’t die. Elders that would have died due to natural causes became crippled, unable to move and slowly going mad with thirst, hunger and pain unless someone was there to look after their every need. Some of the afflicted’s loved ones resorted to desperate measures, yet even after their screaming kin had been smothered and no longer breathed, still they screamed. Some piled their living dead with strong spirits and attempted to set them alight, reasoning that a brief period of bright agony would be better than years of the same, but each time they tried to start the pyres, a chill mist would appear from nowhere and smother the flames. Mortaine even spurred those that were beheaded, with their fellows forced to sew up the heads’ mouths to stop the endless screaming. 

To make matters worse, this curse coincided with Valentine’s long-delayed invasion of Ostvanland. While fatalities were inexplicably light in the opening battles and the Wallovians won many great victories, the number of incapacitated and walking wounded began to spiral out of control and the constant screams of those whose wounds had gone septic or had gut wounds that would drive them insane with agony started to make sleep impossible and shattered morale. Then the rains came and the choking mud plains that had once been roads made it almost impossible to keep the army provisioned. Men began to desert, first in ones and twos, then in a steady stream. 

Valentine found himself shaking his fist at the walls of Ostheim, Ostvanland’s capital, before he had to ride home with too few men left to commit to a siege. That night, a raid by Ostvanland skirmishers managed to sneak past Valentine’s exhausted guards and stabbed him to what they assumed was death. His last coherent words were to curse the knights that had brought this doom upon him and to beg Mortaine for a mercy that would never come. 

Back in Wallovia, things had gone from bad to worse, the harvest had failed and there were simply too many mouths to feed. In desperation, some sacrificed their last morsels of food on makeshift altars to Mortaine but their prayers for forgiveness fell on deaf ears, with a rare few — those known to have a smattering of witchery in their veins — swore blind that for a moment they heard hollow laughter in response to their pleads. 

Years passed and Wallovia fell into ruin. Mercy of a kind came in the form of the Ghouls of the Hollow Mountain as while men, women and children all had to endure the agony of being eaten alive, it meant that their bodily suffering was at last at an end. By that point, however, the entire kingdom had been driven irreconcilably insane. Once the ghouls had feasted, they returned to the Hollow Mountain, leaving a blighted and haunted ruin. 

It wasn’t until the Necroquake – that time when Nagash’s great design caused waves of death magic to spill across the mortal realms — that Mortaine’s vengeance was fully unveiled. From every tomb and corpse rose the spirits of the tormented dead. Filled with hatred of the living, they descended upon nearby settlements and towns, their rampage only checked when a full host of the Emerald Wardens’ Sacrosanct Chamber brought them to battle on the outskirts of Steepacre. Defeated by the might of Sigmar’s Stormcast Eternals, the Nighthaunt of Wallovia returned to their home and are to this day a malignant blight upon the Tallowlands.