Introducing forge world Kal’koplos to the galaxy.
Kal’koplos is a forge world on the brink. Nestled far rimward in Segmentum Obscurus, they have little contact with the galaxy outside their brass-gated manufactorum fortresses. Whilst ostensibly a vassal to Mars and the Adeptus Mechanicus, they’re content to pursue their own interests and studies.
The planet came to the attention of the explorator fleets after a geological survey returned unprecedented levels of copper in the mineral profile, including some deposits with interesting properties. The rolling dunes were stained a muted blue from the oxidized copper in the sands, a cerulean jewel from orbit. The Magii relentlessly mined that copper to create dozens of new alloys with incredible properties; resistant to corrosion, hyper-conductive and beautiful to look upon.
They guard their creations jealously, protected by the brass-clad Kal’kendutos Skitarii legions. The superconductive nature of their favored material has elevated the importance of the Motive Force in their sect, and Kal’koplos-pattern Arc and Taser weapons fetch a high price by those who know of such things. Copper and brass are considered sacred metals to their tech-priests, but of course they still make use of lesser metals for certain applications when it’s called for.
All that glitters…
Dark rumors swirl around Kal’koplos. Some whisper tales of forbidden research into infernal machines, channeling foul warp-based energies into weapons too terrible for the mind to comprehend. No formal accusations have ever been recorded against them, but whether it’s true or not, the Magii are a secretive bunch. It’s a fact that several members of the Holy Inquisition have expressed an interest, but nothing has yet come of it.
Within the Adeptus Mechanicus there are those who decry the supposed lack of piety, but Kal’koplos has ever maintained their innocence to these claims and made shows of obeisance to the authority on Mars. It is true that they eschew red robes in favor of their dusty blues, but this is not unheard of and ceremonial exceptions of deference have been made in the past. The Adeptus Mechanicus at large allows for a certain level of autonomy, especially in cases where the Omnissiah’s work is being done, turning out weapons and war materiel of high quality to supply the troops of the Imperium. Such is the case of the Mechanicus demesne on Kal’koplos.
The forge, whilst reclusive, does not keep entirely to itself when the glory of war calls. The magii have sent their Skitarii in support of the Imperium when their interests intersected, most recently fighting alongside both the Death Korps of Krieg and the Eagle Eyes astartes in a long, drawn out campaign. During the war, they proved their dedication beyond any doubt and have remained allies to the astartes ever since.
The Kal’kendutos Skitarii
The Skitarii of Kal’koplos march to war clad in armor forged from a resilient dull yellow brass-type alloy, glistening with polished copper accents. Their blue-gray robes and war machines are dyed with azurite pigments culled from the copper-infused blue sands of their home world.
They make use of every tool of death at their disposal, but their preference lies with weaponry that harnesses weaponized electricity; the sacred Motive Force. Special materials pulled from millennium-old copper mines make these weapons both easy to produce and startlingly effective in their hands.
Prepwork and research
I started this project because I received a Start Collecting!: Skitarii box for my birthday. I really had no intention of starting a new army, but I’ve always loved these models and I put them on an Amazon wishlish a long time ago. I was very surprised, to say the least. I was sorely tempted to stick with a canon scheme as many of them look really good, but I just can’t do it. For starters, I really wanted to do brass and copper, because to me there’s a very steampunk vibe in that mix of metals that I thought would look great with these models. I also wanted very much to do something different from my green marines, since they’d likely share a tabletop. I started a Pinterest board for steampunk stuff and just started thinking about how it could work.
Conventional wisdom says you shouldn’t mix too many metallic finishes on a model. I knew I wanted to do so here, so I put a little thought into how I might pull that off. I came up with the idea of mixing the finish as much as the color. I opted for a dull brass, not unlike the aged brass I used on my Queen Bee, and a much brighter copper. So, in terms of palette, that put yellow and reddish-orange on the map. To contrast, I needed something on the blue/purple end of the spectrum. I also wanted some brown, khaki or tan somewhere to pull in some natural sepia tones, because again that’s very steampunk and I love the use of wood and leather on the Skitarii models. Originally I had been looking at light brown robes with blue on the inside, but it wasn’t working. I swapped it out and played with different tones in Photoshop, and found something that I think works pretty well.
The blue was inspired by a sort of desaturated blue-gray, almost like Space Wolves but from the other direction. As someone on Twitter pointed out, it was really more of a Cyan, but in terms of contrast it worked very well with the brass without looking garish. As for the other color, I just knew I wanted a sort of warm tan color that would work equally well on the undercarriage of an Onager as it would on the long-legged Dragoon and the robes of a Ranger. So, a neutral, natural color but on the warmer end of the spectrum. These quick Photoshops get the basic idea across:
From there, I hit up a local store to try and put together a workable paint recipe. I opted for these two sets, for starters:
I’m not yet sure what I’ll use to wash the blue, but frankly it’ll probably be Agrax Earthshade, because…
Agrax Earthshade is a gift from the entire pantheon of other-worldly powers. They decided to stop fighting long enough to give humanity a gift that would elevate us to another plane of existence, and that’s what they came up with.
I also toyed with the idea of doing an oil wash that would be applied to the entire model, as I’m interested in some slightly simpler recipes for these guys. I may yet do so, but I haven’t decided. If I do it’ll be a dark brown oil. Burnt umber, most likely.
Here’s where it gets kind of cool
I’ve had a thing for copper for a little while now. I just like the way it looks, and all the sudden it’s becoming more popular to find it in kitchen stuff, decorative items, etc. When I was trying to come up with some background on these guys I started connecting some pretty neat dots.
First, I wanted to incorporate some alchemical symbols and create a logo for the forge world. I looked up the symbol for copper and found two of them. One of them happened to be pretty cool looking. The one for brass wasn’t nearly as cool, so I started leaning more towards copper. Of course, brass is an alloy of copper so it didn’t change much. The Adeptus Mechanicus uses a lot of these alchemical symbols, as well as more of a classical Greek base, just as the Imperium of Man uses a sort of pseudo-Latin base. Looking up the Greek names for Copper I found a few, but they mostly started with a ‘k’ or at least a ‘k’ sound. I figured the name would be something that started with a K, and then I could work the symbol into the capital letter K just like Lucius and Ryza had done. So that was pretty cool.
Thinking about the colors and the way most AdMech use red robes, I realized that copper happens to form a green or even blue patina, so I started looking into that. I uncovered some really cool stuff about the oxidization process (it forms pinkish-red and black oxides) as well as the process by which patina forms. It’s based on both the humidity level and the makeup of air pollutants, so that could easily explain why the copper on this planet developed a blue patina. Even cooler, the blue version of the patina was used in antiquity to make a blue pigment, remarkably similar to the Hoeth Blue paint that formed the basis of my blue recipe. So, that means my forge world could paint their equipment and dye their robes blue for the exact same reason most other ones did: to match the colors of their planet. How cool is that?
I feel like it’s all coming together quite nicely now, and I’m very eager to get my paints. Speaking of which, guess who just released brand new ‘hyper-dense’ metallic brass and copper paints? I ordered the new Citadel paints as soon as they were available, and I consider it an act of divine providence that their release coincides so perfectly with my new project. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the two new gold colors they released for Age of Sigmar, and these are said to be very similar. The copper is particularly welcome as I want that ‘shiny penny’ look, as opposed to the current offerings. I’m thinking I’ll base with Warplock Bronze, pretty much cover that with this new copper, and then give it a little minimal shading and that’s about it. The brass will be a bit more complex because I want it to feel very lived-in.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Leave me a comment below.
I’m still quite new to AdMech and I could use advice on what works and what doesn’t. I’ve heard Arc weapons are great on Vanguard, so I’ve got plans to use those and also a squad with Plasma Culverins because I deal with a lot of marines in my small gaming group. Not sure if I should run some Rangers with minimal upgrades as their guns look quite nice, or what? I’ve heard arquebuses aren’t too hot, which sucks because they look so cool.