Thursday, November 30, 2017

Vengeance of the Lichemaster: Gnawdoom and his Skaven

Gnawdoom the Grey Seer and Throt the Unclean are the two heroes who lead the Skaven forces in the scenario Vengeance of the Lichemaster (1986). They're assisted by two champions, Flench Packlord and Iron Wielder, plus a Skaven Flamerthrower Crew. Today I've got painted versions of all these miniatures.

The brief for the Skaven player in Vengeance of the Lichemaster tells the story from the ratmen's perspective. This background is worth quoting at length because it reveals some very special about the religious practices of the Skaven:
Last month, during the annual Great Feast of the Horned Rat, an enemy entered the city of Skavenblight, wormed his way into the ceremony itself and, during the sacred dedication to the Horned Rat, stole the Awesome Black Ark. Bounding onto the dais before the shimmering apparition of the Chaos God, a magically disguised figure was seen to leap towards the casket containing the Ark, at which moment the intruder and the Ark both vanished into thin air. The Skaven were momentarily frozen with astonishment as well as suffering the indignity of being caught looking the other way whilst bent double and baring their hairy buttocks (the traditional salutation to the Horned Rat at this time)...  
[Rick Priestly, Citadel Spring Journal 86, page 61]
The Skaven's anal salute carries an echo of the osculum infame or "shameful kiss" that witches were supposed to bestow on the Devil's fundament during their Black Masses. As one accused witch, Isobel Gowdie of Auldearne said in 1662, "Sometym he [the devil] vold be lyk...a dowg, and he vold hold wp his taill wntill we wold kiss his arce." For the Skaven, however, the situation is reversed, and they bare their buttocks to the apparition of their Lord. Unclear whether, in return, the Horned Rat gives them each a smootch.

 Woodcut from Guazzo's Compendium Maleficarum (1608)

In any case, the thief who caught the Skaven with their pants down is, of course, the wizard Bagrian. The brief goes on to describe how the Skaven player controls one of the many search parties sent out to recover the Black Ark. Gnawdoom has used his magical orb, the Seerstone, to track Bagrian to the monastery of La Maisontaal. The table is set for a grand battle...

Gnawdoom, Skaven C47 (Citadel, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

Above is Gnawdoom the Grey Seer from Citadel's C47 Skaven range, sculpted by Jes Goodwin in 1986. I painted him to resemble the illustration by John Blanche on the cover of The Citadel Journal Spring 86.

 I particularly enjoyed painting his grotty robe...

I love Goodwin's notion that white Skaven have a special place of prominence. As he wrote in his article introducing the Skaven: "The Grey Seers are extremely important and influential Skaven and would only rarely involve themselves in anything other than the most important conflict." Gnawdoom is distinguished by the fact that he carries the glowing Seerstone, which glows brighter as it approaches the Black Ark of the Covenant. He also carries a small triangular "key" of warpstone, which is the only way to open the Ark and activate it's awesome powers.

Throt the Unclean, Skaven C47 (Citadel, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

Above is the second in command of the Skaven war-party: Throt the Unclean (C47 sculpted by Jes Goodwin, 1986). Throt is a mutant with three arms and "a warpstone charm replacing one of his beady red eyes... this glows bright scarlet in the dark and whilst Throt is amongst the bloodlust of combat." I love his man catcher -- I can just imagine Throt snaring an opponent with this pole-arm and than using the knife in his third hand to finish the unfortunate victim.

Flench Packlord, Skaven C47 (Citadel, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

Here is Flench Packlord (C47 sculpted by Jes Goodwin, 1986). Flench is the first of the two Skaven champions.

Malis Manwrack, Skaven C47 (Citadel, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

And above is the Skaven champion called Iron Wielder in Vengeance, or Malis Manwrack in the Citadel catalogues (C47 sculpted by Jes Goodwin, 1986). He's one of the classic Skaven leaders and is a staple in nearly every Skaven army from the 1980's.

Skaven Warpfire Thrower, Skaven C22 C47 (Citadel, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

Finally, we have the Skaven Warpfire Thrower Team that accompanies Gnawdoom on his mission. The Citadel Journal gives the name of these two incendiaries as Scathe the Tainted and Flem (C22 and C27 sculpted by Jes Goodwin, 1986). There's a lot of detail packed into these two miniatures.

Skaven Warpfire Team, Skaven C22 C47 (Citadel, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

Thanks for dropping by! Next week we'll look at the rank-and-file in Gnawdoom's Skaven warband. 


  1. Brilliant paint jobs and background, and strangely heartening seeing old school stuff being brandished so skilfully :) Waiting for the batrep haha!

  2. These are gorgeously well painted.

  3. Fantastic paint jobs on great old miniatures. Well done!

  4. Takes me back. Well painted minis a joy to behold.

  5. Excellent paintwork and basing, especially on the Flamethrower crew.

    I'm really glad you picked up on the osculum infame, if we add it to the Thirteen Lords of Decay and the Horned Rat God and start to join up the dots, I think there are some very interesting images that start to emerge.

  6. Not only the minis look awesome, but the research and related concepts left me jaw dropping too!

  7. Images of the Great Horned Rat appearing in a puff of smoke, only so that it can place it's diseased puckered lips upon the bared rumps of attendant worshippers caused many a chuckle at my cubicle. :)

    Gnawdoom is my all time fav WFB sculpt. Such a lovely mini with loads of detail where it counts. Your paint job is fab, the robes look great. I really need to replace the one I gave to my son with another from Ebay or some such if they aren't too expensive, cos I never got to paint this character.

  8. Really nice work, Matthew! I especially like what you've done with the warp fire throwers. They look really nice mounted on a single base.

    1. Yeah, the teams really work well on a single base!

  9. Up to your usual high standards: both words and paint-work. Without wishing to gush, I do always look forward to OiT posts! Looking forward to seeing what you do with the Skaven grunts.

  10. Interesting write up... and great painting on some excellent models!

  11. Thanks for sharing, the miniatures are great and well painted, and the article is very interesting too! Love the Vengeance :)

  12. Too cool. I really enjoyed reading this and the previous post. I don't have very many oldschool skaven, having mostly come by the plastics from the Isle of Blood set. For shame, I know.

  13. Wonderful work on those classic figures, I have several I still have to work on myself.