“There is an immense reward to be found in that frozen forest... the gift of immortality a direct consequence of the surrender by each of us of our own physical and temporal identities. However apostate we may be in this world, there perforce we become apostles of the prismatic sun."
The Crystal World (1966), J.G. Ballard
In some forgotten grottos and neglected glades of the Mortal Realms, a singular transformation is coming over all organic matter. Living or dead, all blossoming into vitreous spurs of crystal. An inexhaustible tide, physically and psychologically. White static on periphery of conscious thought, beckoning all to return to face absolution. A new horror to add to the many that plague the Mortal Realms. But perhaps the capacity for it has been present all along, since the World’s molten core was placed within the firmament, some antediluvian certainty finally coalescing into being?
|Although covered in armor, there were still exposed places for crystal shards to emerge.|
The idea to create a group of poor souls afflicted by a disease of slow crystallization came from reading J.G. Ballard’s novel The Crystal World (1966). The novel follows a medical doctor who ventures to Africa to treat leprosy only to find that the forest is turning into crystal, along with everything in it. The imagery in the novel stayed with me, ideas that I continually come back to, much like the characters in the book who came in contact with the crystal forest and were eventually all compelled to return to the forest and face oblivion. When Jake of Ex Profundis started the AOS28 movement, it seemed like a good opportunity to transfer some of these ideas into model form.
|Dropping his hammer suggests a loss of dexterity, as the Stormcast is overcome with prismatic crystals.|
When it came to actually converting models succumbing to crystallization, we knew that special effort would need to be taken to capture the slow, stiff, and jerky motion of a victim being robbed of their mobility. This is often at odds with the dynamic sculpts seen in Age of Sigmar (flowing robes and parchments and bold, powerful stances). The first model we looked into creating was a Stormcast Eternal, such is their prominence in the Age of Sigmar setting. With the model, we wanted to depict the sad and ultimate end for a noble warrior of humanity, trapped in crystal unable to be forged anew. To do this, we positioned his arm to be dropping his hammer, suggesting his loss of fine motor skills. The crystals sprouting from the Stormcast were created from rods of plasticard carefully shaped with an x-acto blade and glued into place. We tried to make it look like the crystallization is covering the Stormcast’s skin and bursting out of the seams of his armor.
|The orruk shaman model has an extremely characterful pose, one that we were able to repurpose to simulate the character’s loss of mobility.|
One exciting aspect of this crystal contagion is that it can infect all living matter, allowing us free reign in choosing what models to include. For the second, we wanted to create an orruk, and after looking over the new range we found that the new shaman model was an ideal candidate. It is already shambling and disjointed, so the pose did not need to be modified. We opted to remove the model’s billowing cloak, necessitating resculpting the orruk's upper back and head. His staff was modified into a primitive spear and his robes lengthened and tattered. Like the Stormcast, plasticard was used to make the largest of the spreading crystals. Smaller crystals were created by gluing crushed glass to the model’s skin (Secret Weapon Miniatures).
|Crushed glass and plasticard were used to create the spreading crystals.|
With these first two models build, it seems like we have only scratched the surface of this crystal blight. Thus far, both models have been larger ones, on 40mm bases, but we would also like to create some smaller, weaker characters. What sort of beautiful havoc will the crystallization cause on fragile humans or lithe elves? We would also like to explore the concept of scholars and witch hunters trying to elucidate the origins of the disease and how it might be combated. We would love to hear what you all think, and are open for suggestions on how you might go about painting such models!
- Greg and Adam Wier