Since the last post about my butchers (do you want to know more?), I worked hard to complete them. It was a personnal challenge, since I am cursed with the « slow painter spell ». I could have been more productive, but still, I am proud of what was achieved.
Here you’ll find more about the backstory of the project and some of the ideas that drove my work.
Food is an important issue for many #warmongers of the twitterverse and it is for me too, so I couldn’t help to wonder, what do you eat in the Hive? Well, I guess: what you find… Certainly ot true for everybody though. Sure, the vile scum living in the underhive survive on what they can put their dirty hands on, but the Nobility and the elite would want to eat something more tasty than « mutant rats based power rations ». This is where this story started…
All of this is homemade background and is in no way official lore, though I think it fits the global Necromunda environment well. I hope you like it.
The main (and officially only) trade of the Butchers Guild is to provide « real » meat to the Nobility of the Hive. The Guild enjoys a monopoly on processing and trading non artificial meat in the Hive. Since it is a very lucrative trade (nobles will pay tremendous sums to get to eat fresh real meat), the Guild is very jealous of its priviledges and trade rights and use an army of inspectors and enforcers to eliminate any potential competitors.
The Guild enjoys a monopoly on on-world and off-world livestock trading. By Imperial decree all live animals and carcasses destined to human food must be sold to the Guild and it is forbidden for all residents of Necromunda to buy meat from any seller other than an authorized Butcher. This monopoly ensures the Guild tremendous financial ressources.
It also ensures the Guild numerous usefull off-world contacts which provide support and intell as a by-product of their trade partnerships with the Guild. Another source of intell comes from the various relationships the Guild has established with all kind of hunters and tribes living in the wastes. These low life and savages trade part of what they hunt for pieces of tech and old weapons the Guild is happy to give them.
Of course this monopoly creates a strong incentive for contraband. The Guild has an ambiguous relationship with anybody triing to bring meat or livestock on Necromunda « off the books ». It will try to crush any fool triing to establish a direct supply chain to on-world customers and offering lower prices than the Guild does. On the other hand, the Guild uses unofficial supply to circumvent rules and regulations (and taxes) when importing all that it needs, so pirates and smugglers may be trading partners for the Guild as long as they do not become too greedy (or brave) and do not openly challenge its lucrative monopoly.
The Guild also developped more discreet and « off the books » activities.
The leaders of the Guild quickly understood that their knowledge of animal biology and their access to off-world livestock could be used to even more lucrative business than feeding the Nobility. Soon they offered to sell pets to the different noble houses. As this side of its trade developped the Guild faced more and more unorthodox requests from its customers.
Nowadays the Guild, combining its monopoly on the trade of livestock, its off-world contacts and its business partnership with local hunters, has become the main supplier of mutant beasts and bio-engineered animals on Necromunda. The Guild is able to offer anyone, for the right price, mutants and enhanced beasts, were they grotesque pets or dreadful combat animals.
Such activities are of course highly illegal and some of them would be deemed heretical by the Inquisition. Necromunda being what it is, some « gifts », targetted assassinations and well used intell allow the Guild to safely serve all its customers and making juicy profits out of this side activity.
Having wealth, political contacts and trading parternships (both on-world and off-world) and tremendous economical power (after all the Guild is a key food provider for the delicate nobles), the Butchers have many ennemies and jealous competitors. As a consequence the Guild developped a powerful militia easily recruited among its members and their servants. Skilled in handling crude weapons and accustomed to violence, the Butchers are a force to recon with in the constant gang war raging in the Hive. The militia may have been a mostly defensive force, used to protect the shops and warehouse of the Guild. Nowadays it is a full fledged private army, used not only to protect the Guild assests but to weigh on the constant power struggles of the Hive.
The Master is based on a Goliath I had left from the Necromunda box set (do you want to know why?).
Since I heavily modified all my Goliaths heads and cut their famous crests I decided to keep that one intact, eventhough it gives the Master a distinct « Goliath » look. Maybe he was a ganger before joining the meat trade? He also carries a Goliath weapon (a cleaver) but lost all his House markings, as, whatever his past, he is now a member of the Butchers guild and nothing else. The cleaver is a reference to the Butcher daemon in Diablo, who, as explained before, is part of the raw inspirationnal material used for this project.
I wanted the Master to carry an attribute of his power and rank and give him a medieval look at the same time, hence his staff. Staffs are a common sign of power, from the scepters of kings and emperors, to the « marshall staff » (baton de maréchal) used in the French (and others) military. Somewhere in my mind I stack the picture of medieval guilds nobles and merchant carrying ornate staffs, so I gave the Master one. The head of the staff is a solid gold piece representing a Tau’s skull (from GW skulls box). The staff is a symbol of power and wealth, it also is a mass the Master uses on unrully clients and lazy apprentices alike.
The Master is heavy, powerful, « in charge » and he knows it. He had to radiate power and confidence, hence the relative « relaxed » pose. His right arm has been repositionned so that he heavily relies on his staff. I like the feeling of mass it gives the mini: relying on his staff like a cane, he looks down on his folk, the massive cleaver held low, like an unspoken threat.
I wanted the Master to wear an apron, typical of his trade. It is another reference to Butcher deamon. I sculpted it with GS, further practicing this aspect of the hobby. I am quite happy with the result. I hesitated on what to do with the Goliath « belly armour plate », and finally decided to keep it and use it as a massive belt. At one point the arms of « Jean Sans Peur » (Duke of Burgundy, who was allied to the butchers in Paris) will be painted on this armour plate. Since I did not want the Master to look too much Goliath, he lost the upper armour plate and I had to sculpt his pectoral muscles. It reinforces his muscular look, which I think goes well with the character I was aiming for.
Last but not least, the Master carries a « hook ». It is another attribute of his rank. This crude piece of iron is used to hang carcass in the shop. When his aides have finished their work (killing a beast and cutting it in crude meat parts), the Master comes and eveluate their work. If the meat his deemed worthy for trading, he applies his mark (a stamp I guess) then gives a hook, allowing the meat to be hanged in the shop and sold. The hook represents his power: whatever task he delegates, in the end, he is the only judge of the work done in the shop. This is also a way for the Master to know exactly what comes into the shop and what should be traded. Would an aide try to steal from him, the Master would know, since he keeps the book of what has been hooked.
I am not especially pleased with the eyes of the Master, I will have to correct this later.
The Hound is an orphan mini that slept in a bits box for ages (it is a metal MaxMini Necrohound). I first bought it to accompany Germania (Do you want to know more?), but once on the base next to her, he appeared to be too big and I didn’t want it to steal her thunder.
Too big for my dreadful Germania, it is the perfect companion for the Master Butcher. It is an example of the experiments the Butchers carry on beasts they do not sell for meat but « enhance ». I liked the mix of organic, skull and mechanic parts on the mini. Loosely based on a doberman, the Hound paintjob is very simple (#drybrushingisnotacrime) but I think it works well.
The Hound walks with the Master, ready to burry his fangs in any potential burglar or « too slow to pay » customer.
The first Companion
The first Companion is based on a GW chaos cultist mini. I only changed his left arm for a Goliath hammer.
The « Companions » are senior aides. They are fully trained but do not own the right to have their own shop and trade on their own yet. This social structure is the one of medieval guilds. In game the Companions count as Champions, as the Master counts as leader. The Companion is, in terms a colour scheme, a mix between the Butcher Boys and the Master. He wears the same colours as the Butcher Boys, but the piece of cloth hanging between his legs (sorry) is a reminder of the Master’s apron. Like the Butcher Boys, he wears a white hood (see below).
Since the companion is a fully trained butcher, he carries the hammer used to stun the beasts (before cutting their throats). His job is dangerous and demands great skills. I like that the arm carrying the hammer is disproportionate (a Goliath arm on a regular man), since the arm wielding the heavy hammer would be more muscular than the other arm. I kept, in his right hand, the original cultist’s crude piece of weaponry. It fits the butchers imagery well in my opinion. I guess it is used to softened the meat…or the head of gangers triing to steal the wealth of the butchers.
On the side of the hammer you’ll notice a piece of parchement. It is an Imperial « Letter of Marque ». The « Letter of Marque » is granted to « registered » butchers. It is the proof that the butcher’s activities are sanctionned by the authorities. To get a « Letter of Marque » a butcher has to demonstrate he trained with Masters, has been recognized a Master by the Guild and paid for his charge. When the Master sets his own shop he buys his charge and all is officially recorded. A copy of the record is written on the « Letter of Marque » which is affixed on the hammer the Master presents to the authority (yes, he has to pay for his hammer). Once he has grown in power and wealth, the Master often delegates the most tedious work in the shop to trustworthy apprentices and the hammer is then carried by a Companion until he becomes his own Master or inherit his Master’s shop.
The second Companion
At first my butchers were NPCs, so gang list building was not an issue. I then decided I would use the felxibility of the Venators list to play my butchers. So I decided to build a second Companion (still WIP as you can see). He is based on one of GW Garrek’s Reavers. I really liked his dynamic pose. It is the pointed knife that decided me to buy the kit.
Since he wields a knife, he is obviously the Companion in charge of cutting the beasts throats once they have been stunned by his hammer carrying buddy. Once again it is a dangerous task (sometimes the beast wakes up) and demands very specific skills.
I had not much to do on this khorne follower to make him look the part. I lost the axe and changed it for a Goliath gun (to tune down the « fantasy feel » of the mini). I then removed all Chaos and Khorne symbols and the job was almost done.
That Companion got an apron, like the Master, to show his rank (eventhough his size helps making him look more important than a mere Butcher Boy) and will be painted using the same mixed colour scheme as the other Companion: the main colours of a Butcher Boy and the apron similar to the one of the Master.
The second companion is much bigger than the first one (due to the mini I used) and wears an apron, so he looks more like the master and the first one looks more like a Butcher Boy. I had to come up with a background explanation for this: well, you’ll guess who has seniority! Let’s say the first one has just been granted the rank of Companion and the other is a long serving one and the presomptive heir of the Master.
Les Garçons Bouchers (Butcher Boys)
I used GW Chaos cultists for the Butcher Boys. At first I did not want to convert the « pointy nose » guy, since I think it is quite a perfect sculpt. Then I saw a wonderful conversion of that mini with a back-banner on the twitterverse him and stole the design shamelessly (I could not, while editing this post, remember who I stole it from, if you know, please tell me so I can lay credit where it’s due). Who does not love a good back-banner right? It also reinforces the medieval guild theme since many « corporations » used to have standards of their own.
The banner was done this morning (I have had three days home mainly dedicated to hobby which allowed me to work on my backlog a bit). It bears the coat of arms of the first « Capétiens » Dukes of Burgundy. I chose this because the parisian butchers helped « Jean Sans Peur » (Fearless John) in his political struggles during the French Civil War that raged at the end of the Hundred Years War (Do you want to konw more?). A fine medievalist and heraldist could point out that this is not Jean Sans Peur coat of arms, since he was from the second dynasty of Capétiens Dukes of Burgundy (the Valois). First of all, you must have noticed that these are not historical minis by now, so accuracy is not my main objective. Secondly, my skill do not allow me to paint the right coat of arms on the banner (see bellow), so I settled for something easier. Still, as stripes were once my painting Nemesis, I am pretty pleased with the result.
The second Butcher Boy is basically just a GW chaos cultist. His close combat weapon is « butcher compatible ». I just repositionned his gun and added a blade to it.
The Butcher Boys and Companions all carry knives and white hoods. The knives are a pretty obvious choice for butchers. The white hoods come from the background I am refering to. During the « Révolte des Cabochiens » (Cabochiens’ insurrection) the insurgents first wore green hoods (Duke of Burgundy colours) and then adopted the white hood as a tribute to Flemmish city insurgents (as they were demanding communal liberties similar to those the cities of Flandre enjoyed). I felt green would not sit well with the rest of the colour scheme so I went for dirty white.
Well now that a project with a few NPCs escalated into a full fledged gang, I have to convert more Butcher Boys to reach at least a 10 men gang… I still have one chaos cultist I could convert but lack the inspiration at the moment (and have plenty of other projects on the table, including my Faceless Mothers and the start of a Genestealers cult).
Still, I’ll soon have to find more mini to cut to pieces to make new butchers… Any suggestion?
One last word (may contain spoilers), I think the butchers may one day get a « meat processing mobile facility », but that is another story...
Well that’s all for folks. Hope you liked what you read, see you soon.
Pictures in this post are my own, except banner picture and the coat of arms of Jean Sans Peur which were found on the internet.