Sunday, 29 April 2012

Dance Macabre – the Mordheim Morrismen


Bad hair day?
Well Mayday is nearly upon us, and the special edition of the Wicker Man is in the DVD player.
My last post was about too many projects, and this is one of them. During times of heavy workloads I tend to prefer focusing on fluff, it's cheap and enjoyable. Like home-made vodka.

This is not so much a new project as a re-imagining of an old one. I really used to love Warhammer – as a game I preferred it to 40k. I first played 4th edition, and the last that I dabbled in was 6th, which I rather liked. As Scipio had never really played it before I thought it would be great to try it. Then I read the 8th edition rules. I immediately agreed with the idea of unit fillers. This is supposed to be a game of manoeuvre. Two blocks of 50 models is not a game of manoeuvre. I quickly decided that “Warmapocalypse,” was not for us.

I really, really want to do an Empire army (for 6th ed), a Stirland army – rural and ragged, with no steam tanks, war altars or any of that silliness (guess what I think about the new Armies Book). I actually quite liked the barefooted soldier, and the one that looked a little... simple. They fitted what I wanted perfectly. And when I win the lottery, I may actually get to field this force, with regiments such as the “Yellowbellies” the “Saddlebacks” and the Poachers. And including the engineering feats of Friedrich Dibbenheim.

(I'm nearly at the point of this post).

As Stirland, particularly the regions near to Sylvania, always made me think of the Wicker Man (I got to the point originally referenced in the end). I decided that I would have a counts-as unit for my Flagellants: Morris Dancers!

Although this army was probably not going to be feasible for a while, I still really wanted to convert some Warhammer-style Morris Dancers. I recently considered the prospect that Mordheim would be the perfect home for a band of somewhat sinister Morrismen. I am rather slow...

Inspired by the Wicker Man, real-life Border Morris, and the “Other Morris” of Pratchett's Discworld, I set about sketching up some ideas, working out what would need to be sculpted and what could be used from existing kits and ranges.

I pictured them in black tunics decorated with black, purple and grey rags, almost magpie-like on the most part. Feathers aplenty on their hats, and possibly the odd wreath/garland of dark roses. I'm toying with the idea of having some of them blacken their faces with soot a la the real Border Morris tradition but this could be misunderstood or misconstrued. 

Dramatis Personae

  • There has to be a “Fool” with a hobby horse (perhaps with some mocking Bretonnian style livery on it), and instead of the traditional pig's bladder, as this is Mordheim he should have a fish in hand (also a bonus Monty Python reference).
  • There also needs to be a “Maid” - presumably this will be the heavy Brute of the group, in drag.
  • I also thought some sort of shamanic/bardic figure, with an antlered helm – that always looks a bit ominous, reminds me of the legends of Herne the Hunter.
  • And perhaps a chap who is clearly wearing a bull's head mask – perhaps representing a “Beastman” in a dance about the hunt.
  • The compulsory figure is the drunkard, flagons in hand and spilling most of his ale.
  • I'm not sure what they're doing in Mordheim, but I'll think of something – presumably they are simply the “Mordheim Morrismen”
The general backstory of the Morris is thus:

In the dark border lands where Stirland, Talabecland and Ostermark meet, nary a stone's throw from cursed Sylvania there is a tradition: the Morris. Its origins are lost to time and its meaning unclear, but the dance continues unimpeded and unstoppable. Some postulate that it was inspired by a band of mysterious Elven wardancers that dwealt in the Great Forest, exiled from their Kin in Loren. Others still believe that it is a near-ancient ritual to Taal and Rhya, beseeching them for fertility, a good harvest and successful hunt. Darker theories suggest that it began on the borderlands of Sylvania, as a prayer to Morr and a warding against the Walking Dead. Perhaps it is none of these, or perhaps it is all, taking from each and making it as something anew. One thing is certain: the Morris never stops. 

I think I'm leading towards the Morr(is) idea , but want it so they can appear a *little* Chaotic. With the Morr idea though I can include a Morr priest Hired Sword and also have various zealots consider them a little dubious...

N.B. In my search for miniatures I found these superb conversions of Gripping Beasts Morris Dancers – Discworld Lancre Morrismen! Superb work indeed.

6 comments:

  1. I didn't get all those references but I loved that link and I think an army of Morris dancers would be brilliant.

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    1. Thanks very much Padre :) There are perhaps a few too many obscure references there, but hopefully it'll all still come out alright in the end

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  2. Nice find for the minis to convert. Sounds like a cool idea, and yeah fluff IS cheap and arguably the best part!

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    1. Thanks very much, fluff is the best part in my book :) I had found the miniatures ages ago when looking at VBCW stuff, but this was the first time I'd seen these. I won't be using these minis myself, I'm using buts of old and new Bretonnians, Empire Militia and Regiments, the Mordheim Frenzied Mob, maybe some of the Carnival of Chaos and general miscellaneous bits and pieces plus green stuff aplenty :D

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  3. Ah, The Wicker Man! I showed this to my wife, who had never heard of the movie before. I didn't tell her anything beforehand, just had her watch it. She was totally blown away.

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    1. Excellent, another convert! It really is a superb film. Have you seen the Wicker Tree yet?

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