The Von Karlsteins

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    • The Von Karlsteins

      Henrypmiller Vampire Covenant hobby blog part 1

      Firstly a little about myself.

      I have been playing warhammer since the obligatory girls and beer break now for a couple of years. I have 4 armies (now 5). Highborn Elves, Sylvan Elves, Warriors of the dark Gods (mono Wrath), Kingdom of Equitaine (not played since 6th edition) and my newest project will be displayed here!
      I would describe myself as a hobbyist come gamer. I play with what I like in the fluff and just try and fit my army into the box rather than building the most powerful things possible to smash face. Sometimes that works out in my favour (double Dragon) but usually it doesn't. I play on the Danish tournament scene pretty regularly. I have won 1 tournament recently and come second in the last doubles tournament I attended. So I know the warhammer basics.

      I am also a member of the Content Team on the 9th age forum with the Ammertime' Podcast. You can find our podcast on Youtube:

      youtube.com/channel/UCUM6k2s5RI0_u0yTlexnmAA

      So without no further ado, I present my Vampire Covenant Army Blog.

      To begin with, I want to show you the inspiration behind the army: an article from White Dwarf #291 (Page 82 if you are old enough to have a copy).



      This article was written from an Empire scholars point of view of the Von Carsteins (perhaps I should say Castlestein - nahh) and the strange land of Sylvania. He describes how Vlad von Carstein married Isabella von Drak to become the count of Sylvania. The irony is that he doesn't believe he was a vampire just "an imposing and powerful man, probably a little unhinged and with a strange fondness for the night." This line continues throughout the story really showing the naivety of the Empire with regards to the vampires. The scholar assumes that Vlads successors simply took the name to instil fear into the population rather than him actually being alive for over 300 years.



      The meat of the story is the Battle of the Old Forest Road between Vlad von Carstein and the forces of Middenheim. The story talks about some of the units in the Sylvanian army such as the Drakenhof Guard (In my eyes I see these guys as undead greatswords. Vlad's staunch boddyguard - Barrow Guard) and the Drakenhof Templars (Barrow Knights). At the battle Vlad allegedly shows his true colours as a vampire according to the scribes sources (although he doesn't quite believe them).
      The final pages of the article show some pictures of the army of Sylvania (while it was alive) with the purple, red and black colour scheme. It also shows the banners of the Von Drak family and the Von Carstein family complete with heraldry etc.



      A few interesting points are as Vlad became more and more dark/evil/vampiric he gradually banned the use of icons of Sigmar in his army (I assume because they offended his eyes or something to do with Sigmar cleansing the vampires). This I think is indicative of his turn to a vampire and the Battle of the Old Forest Road being the breaking point, similar to Gelts transformation in The End Times.

      Finally this is set a few hundred years ago, the scholar remarks, and black powder was not invented, or at least available for the Empire's soldiers.

      Furthermore I was actually travelling in the Czech Republic a few years ago and stumbled upon a castle called "Karlstein." I am assuming that this is where the original writers got their inspiration from. It looks very much like "draculas castle" complete with small medieval village of human chattel/peasants underneath. Nestled at the top of a mountain valley, Charles (Karl) the Holy Roman Emperor (I forget the number. Maybe V?) used the castle regularly. I think if anyone in history was a secret vampire, it was probably him. Regardless it is a cool place and well worth the visit if you are staying in Prague. It inspired me to do this army.





      So how does this fluff and background translate to my army? Well I wanted to do a joint army that I could play 2 factions. Clearly this army is going to be a mix of Vampire Covenant and Empire (predominantly vampires). This has been done before many times but hopefully the depth of the fluff will make mine stand out. The obvious units are:

      Great swords = barrow guard
      Knights = Barrow knights
      state troops = Skeltons
      Militia = zombies

      I really wanted to theme the army around this exact point in time. The moment when Vlad is turning to a vampire and maybe his troops are not all dead yet but in the transition period where Sylvania is changing from an Empire province to that of the undead.

      One idea was that I could theme the army through the eyes of a witch hunter who has come to Sylvania to investigate what is happening. He has come to the court of Vlad von Carstein and everything seems fine. He is even enamoured by the count. He joins him in war and becomes "trusted." However things start to get stranger and stranger. He begins to notice that the people of Sylvania are more dirty/unclean/rotten than the rest of the Empire. Noses start falling off peasants, the wine tastes strangely like blood, the hunting dogs look more like wolves. etc.

      Finally he is involved in the Battle of the Old Forest Road and he sees for the first time that he is in a country of living dead. When he tries to confront Vlad, he hears laugher and he is unable to move. At this point he realises that he is in fact dead himself, a ghost (or Fell Wraith) in thrall to the vampire himself. Evidently he had been killed at some point(perhaps in his sleep) by the vampire and raised immediately and not noticed that he was dead. Perhaps he felt a little cold one morning.
      Therefore my wraith characters will be made up of ghostly warrior priests and witch hunters.

      Hurricanum/war altar = The dark coach

      Any other unit I fancy such as crossbowmen or flagellants can be spirit hosts.

      There is no black powder in the army fluff so no cannons or handgunners. I was thinking about converting a catapult to "count as" a mortar when I use the army as Empire.

      The wolves and bats and animals/monsters can be justified "creatures of the night" that "appear" and help the army. Obviously under the power of the vampire, but this might not seem plausible from the human perspective.

      That's about it for now. I'll start posting some pictures of the army I have built so far in the next week.
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      The post was edited 3 times, last by Henrypmiller ().

    • The Von Karlsteins

      I have been doing some work on the Vampires which will lead my army. Sticking with the Empire/Vampire theme I have done a bit of a kitbash from the Empire General kit. The model is supposed to represent Vlad von Carstein around the time of his ascension to being a vampire. It also needs to be used if I want to play empire.
      I aquired some elf heads (all roughly the same) that I can use to represent the male vampire (Vlad) who is in control of the coven. All the vampire characters will have the same face roughly so the leader is always the same character, regardless of how he is mounted etc. For the foot model I used the sword from the swordmaster champion (Island of Blood set). The head is from the sky cutter chariot (sky sloop). The rest of the parts are from the empire general kit. I did a bit of green stuff on the armour to make it look more archaic/vampire-y.

      The mounted model again is from the general kit. I added the alternate head from the sky cutter (I have 3 of these now...there is another....larger....character coming soon). The shoulder pad is made from a chaos marauder shoulder pad (I think) with a spike added for evil reasons unknown. The armour on the vampire and horse had the same greenstuff treatment as the foot "Vlad". I tried to sculpt little bat wings onto the skull on the breastplate. Not sure if you can see it in the photo so well.

      The overall fluff of the army is that Vlad is gradually changing the nature of sylvania to suit his new-found power. The objects related to Sigmar are offensive to his eyes/he is harmed by them (im imagining sizzling flesh if he touches an icon for example). As it states in the White Dwarf article, Vlad banned the display of the icons of sigmar on his troops armour, banners etc. So the horse has had all the icons (painstakingly) removed. This will be a common theme for the army....no comets!

      Keep posted for more conversions and updates. I have (sneakily) done much more than I have uploaded so the updates should come pretty fast!
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      The post was edited 6 times, last by Henrypmiller ().

    • This is the command group of my Skeletons/Swordsmen.

      The whole unit will be made up of state troops/skeletons kit bash and a bit of green stuff here and there to make them look tatty and worn down.



      I need to think of a name for this unit. My first zombie/free company unit is going to be called "The Sylvania Regulars" so I think I will probably think of a similar name.

      There has been a bit of a debate between swords and shield for parry or spears for the AP and bonus vs cavalry.

      In the end I went with Sword and board. WS 2 Skeletons can hit anything anyway. They are meant as a tar pit and the parry will keep them alive a bit longer.

      I also started the base colours for the unit






      Their uniforms will be half black and half red. I think the shields and banner will have the same pattern.
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    • Banshee and Barrow King

      I have been doing a little modelling and come up with these two conversions:



      The banshee is a leftover from the coven throne. Not sure about how good they are in the new rules. I think they are a little overcosted for what they do. If the range was 12/18 then it would be worth it.



      WIP work in progress barrow king. He needs a flag which is currently in the post. He has received puffy "empire sleeves" with green stuff which is unfortunately not visible.

      I am usually running him with a shield for parry and tullius teeth for extra filthyness. distracting + parry means that he is at best being hit on a 5+ unless you are flighting elves or something with a bonus to hit. This along with T 5 makes him super survivable.
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    • Polly Von Karlstein

      Let me introduce you to my latest project, Polly the Varkolak (short analogy).

      Polly Von Karlstein was once a pretty Sylvainian Wench living in the shadow of Drakenhof Castle. Catching the eye of Vlad on one of his nightly prowls for victims....

      ....In my mind vampires need to keep feeding on blood to survive, if they don't feed then they become more feral, losing some of their soul in the process and eventually becoming vampire spawn. Human blood is the most "pure" blood to drink, whereas animal blood, although satiating the thirst, can have some adverse effects. Varkolaks are created therefore from a mixture eating some dodgey blood and not getting enough blood to satiate the thirst....

      ...Vlad visits Polly regularly, attempting to hide her from jealous Isabella. On the eve that he finally decides to make her one of his courtiers, Isabella, finds out about her. The Vampiress gets to Polly first, captures and locks her in chains in a secret cave. Isabella gives the blood curse of the Von Karlsteins to Polly, but starves her of blood as a way of torturing her to death and loss of her soul (she is pretty jealous).

      In Isabella's arrogance and fantastic Eastern European accent, she explains to Polly the nature of her curse and how she will die in the cave, her soul disappearing and turning into a vampire spawn in thrall to the Vampiress.

      Polly has a bit of pride left, probably some kind of female spitefulness and jealousy of her own against Vlad's lover and is determined to survive. She manages to furiously ambush animals (rats, wolves, bats etc) which take refuge in the cave, getting enough fresh blood to survive and seek her revenge.

      She starts to mutate into a vampire spawn as a result. However with the small amount of blood she is able to procure, she does not give up her soul, but transforms more and more into a raging Varkolak. Polly is eventually mutated/strong enough that she can break her shackles and escape her eternal prison.

      Naturally she goes to seek revenge upon her captor and tormentor. Spreading her bat-like wings she flys to nearby Drakenhof and confronts Isabella in front of the full court of the grand throne room. However her words turn to screeches and animal sounds and upon noticing her reflection in a mirror she is overcome with grief. Vlad is obviously trying to stay very quiet at this point. Isabella has a wiry smile on her face and there are a few knowing sniggers from the courtiers;.

      Polly suddenly tries to throw herself at Isabella in a manic rage but The Vampiress gave her the curse and therefore has complete power over Polly. She is therefore subdued and is brought out into battle when her animal/womanly rage is needed to turn the tide against Sylvainia's enemies.

      ( think this could be a good story but I don't have the time to write some in-depth material)

      Some pictures of the WIP:

      I started with a spare WotDG Demon Prince chest, some old metal dragon feet and some legs from the crypt ghouls.



      I miliputted the legs to make them bigger. My plan at this point was to use the spare terrorgheist head left over from the zombie dragon. It is way too big for the model though and on wriritng this I have decided not to use it.



      I have some spare dragon wings which I chopped up to fit to the ground. I really like the old Varghulf model so I was heavily inspired buy it. The only reason I didn't use it is that I couldn't get hold of a metal one (hate finecast). Just decided to make my own.



      I finished the miliput on the legs. Polly needs a nice booty....But I think they are still a little small.



      I filled in the gaps in the wings with green stuff.



      Here is where I am now. I added the second wing and started the miliput on the chest and shoulders (covered up the chaos icon.





      From here I need to make her a bit less "ripped" but I can do this by adding a load of fur and covering up the stomach muscles. I think the legs are still a bit small so I will probably make them a bit chunkier.

      The head is being problematic. More updates soon....
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      The post was edited 2 times, last by Henrypmiller ().

    • Polly got a head. But then I pulled it off because it was too big. You can see where I am going with it though.








      Here is the inspiration/template I am using for the head, to give you an idea of how I work with the miliput.



      This is what I kind of want it to look like - as batlike as possible.



      Its important to have an understanding of the skull and how it works for the base layer (yellow miliput), before I add the top layer of green stuff and the detail.



      This is what I hope to achieve at the end. The nose and facial structure in particular. I am kind of going for something like a Vampire spawn (GW model) head, but bigger and a bit more feral.
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      The post was edited 1 time, last by Henrypmiller ().

    • A quick bit of background fluff/true story which I remembered today:

      As I said above, I visited Karlstein a couple of years ago while travelling in Czech Republic. I took a tour around the bottom half of the castle (cheaper tour #studentbudget). One of the rooms I visited was the throne room/audience chamber....

      Upon entering the chamber it was relatively dark, despite being a bright day outside. The only light came from two windows in the far wall which were evenly spaced like two eyes gazing across the room. In the space between the two windows a dim outline of a simple wooden throne could be recognised. As the door closed behind me, what little light that was left in the room appeared to vanish and I was left in the dark. Summoned into the light I made my way towards the throne.

      ...The story goes that Charles IV (I finally looked it up) would hold audiences in this chamber. When he did it was said that he would always know if the person in front of him were lying or speaking the truth. Although this may have been down to his guile or brilliance (or magic powers), it may also have been to do with the way that the room was built and laid out. With the throne in between the windows, it ensured that the light would always be on the supplicant's face, whereas he would always be hidden in shadow from the slightly dazzling light from the windows. In this way he would be able to read every last trace of emotion on the face in front of him, w2hile hiding his own.

      This kind of small detail I think is really cool. I can just imagine Vlad von Karlstein, the tricksy vampire holding audiences in chambers like this and using his magic to dim the lights, make it cold and put the supplicant at a disadvantage for political gain, in the same way as Charles IV.
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    • Polly now has a head. Or at least the beginnings of one.

      This was the second attempt (see above) and will be my starting point from which I attempt to sculpt facial features.


      I think it is still a little big. However the rest of the body will eventually be covered in fur which will hopefully make it a bit more proportional. Or maybe she just has an abnormally large head...



      Since taking the photo I have also joined the back muscles together after looking at some pictures of the muscle structure. Looks much better.

      I also have another (secret) project in the works. But I think I will only post pictures after it has been painted...
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    • I am very close to finishing my skeleton unit! I have the champion and 2 unit filers to paint and then it is complete. Lastly, I need to name the unit and write their name on the scrolls on the banner.

      So far I am thinking to name them after a town in the fluff. The unit is a regiment of state troops from one of the local towns in Sylvania. They had loyalty in life to the von Draks of Castle Drakenhof. However when Vlad came to power, he decided they would better serve him dead than alive. He incinerated their flesh with black magic and now only their bones remain.

      Perhaps "Sylvania 1st detatchment". Or "Sylvania 1sts" or similar. Each following number can get a number like in the roman army.

      Ill come up with something :)

      Here is where I am so far:





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