Tuesday, July 1, 2014

28mm Mortal Imass Tribesmen - An Homage to Steven Erikson's 'The Malazan Book of the Fallen'

Here's one a little out of left field. Earlier this spring I came across these new wonderful Neanderthal castings by Steve Saleh (one of my all-time favourite sculptors) which are offered through North Star Figures. They are fabulous models, giving a real sense of the sturdiness and mass of these early proto-humans. 

Nonetheless, being the nerd that I am, I thought they would make wonderful Imass warriors from Steven Erikson's epic 10 volume series (yes, I did say 'epic'), 'The Malazan Book of the Fallen'.

Book One: 'Gardens of the Moon'

Right, so what are these 'Imass', I hear you say?

If you are not a fan of fantasy fiction you may want to click-away before unabashed sword-and-sorcery dorkiness ensues. 

Are we alone now? 

Ok, here it goes. Erikson describes the Imass (one of many races peopling his books) as an ancient, stone-age race of early humans who existed about 300,000 years before the events described in the novels. The Imass' mortal enemies are the Jaghuts, who are a race of mage-tyrants who wielded vast power, frequently using it to enslave or eradicate entire civilizations. What ensued was a series of apocalyptic wars where the Jaghuts, seeing themselves loosing ground, used ice magic to serve as a bulwark to limit the assault of the ferocious Imass. The Imass, in turn, knowing that they could not cross the vast, lifeless sheets of ice created by the Jaghuts (without starving and succumbing to cold), decided to create a mass ritual (the Ritual of Tellann) which would see the majority of their people transformed into undead in order to prosecute the war against the Jaghuts without fear of extreme elements or the necessities of life. Yup, pretty extreme stuff but the stakes were very, very high.

Here is a great painting by Jan Pospisil of what a mortal Imass would've looked like.
...and after the Tellann ritual which bound them as undead warriors. Painting by Niklas Tarpila.

Anyway, during the time in which the books are set, the T'lan Imass are described as huge, undead warriors, largely desiccated, wearing the remains of ancient hides, bone helms and armed with magically invested flint weapons. They continue their hunt for the now very rare (but still very dangerous) Jaghuts.

So when I saw Saleh's models I thought they'd make great mortal Imass, as seen before the tragic self-imposed ritual of Tellann which would steal their life away. 

From what I remember the Imass were supposed to have golden/amber skin and dark, coarse hair. I took a bit of liberty with the hair to make them a bit more interesting. I modified the leader model to be a Imass 'Bonecaster' shaman. I removed the original club from the figure and replaced it with a flint sword made of hewn plasticard and brass wire.  From his previously empty fist he now holds aloft the head of a recently defeated Jaghut (a decapitated head from a grotty 1984 demon miniature from Ral Partha). Pretty simple modifications but they worked out alright.

A Bonecaster shaman with flint sword and Jaghut trophy.

Other than Phil from Diary of a Gaming Magpie, who did this great Bridgeburner figure, has anyone else read these books? I admit they are a bit of hard sledding, but well worth the effort. If you are interested in the premise of the books but don't have the time to read them, I can heartily recommend the audio-book version as they have excellent production value and are a rollicking good listen. 

Anyway, that was a fun diversion, but now on to something different...