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Dream’n up a Theme: 2

This is the Second in a series of connected articles where i’ll give some insights into how I’ve created themes for Armies that I’ve taken to Arc40k and made an impact with them at the event. Hopefully this will help make creating a theme a little easier!

When developing a theme you might ask yourself - is there anything other than the miniatures themselves that have captured your attention or you are passionate about?

I’m talking about getting the seed of an idea upon which your army can be themed upon. It’s that special something that will influence the look, what miniatures you choose to add or not add, and it will create or retell a story you are using to theme your army.

Did you read a novel, or a snippet of a story in a codex or battle tome, is there some iconic artwork that you want to replicate or mimic? Movies, TV series, comics, or any other pop cultural influences can also help start you on a journey.

It’s not easy…but getting that idea for your theme will help make building your army easier. It gives that platform to capture the imagination of others.

Best of all it doesn't have to be your own…

An example of taking an idea and overlaying it onto something else is the Imperial Knight army I built for Arc40k 2015 - the Knights of Damnation.

It’s a theme driven project. But It also draws on parts of the Warhammer 40,000 background and then uses that in a new and different ways.

I’d collected and used units of Legion of the Damned in a number of editions of the game. The 7th Edition Space Marine Codex is the most recent publication to have an entry for Legion of the Damned.

‘From nowhere they come, flickering into view, bodies wreathed in ethereal fire…’

If you’ve not heard of them the Legion of the Damned are an iconic, some might say mythical part of the Warhammer 40,000 lore. Clad in Black Armour and covered in bones and flames they look great on the tabletop.

LOD are currently Warhammer Legends: classic models that are no longer available, and their rules no longer feature in current publications. But are available to download from Warhammer Community:

Shared from @darrenlathem

Even GW model designer Darren Latham has recently reimagened MKVI Space Marines as LOD… such a fantastic and evocative model. Damn... but that's one talented painter!

Anyway - I’ve personally collected Legion of the Damned, in even earlier editions of 40k. Once upon a White Dwarf there was an article that allowed you to field an entire LOD army. And I’d even been lucky enough to include a legendary Sergeant Centurius to my collection.

But a single elite unit of Space Marines isn’t an army. Strong on theme but thin on points…

So, with a background of Help uncalled for… Spooky Specteral Space Marines that turn up to help in a time of dire need. Flaming apparitions - what’s not to luv...

I had to find a way to exploit that!

Legion of the Damned - flaming icons and bones... that works on Imperial Knights right?

I guess it does. Or at least I enjoyed the modelling project that got me to Arc40k and then beyond as I added new models to the collection when they were released over the next few years. Every time replicating the flaming bases, weapons and livery on each new model added to the force.

So, with LOD as the basis of my theme I went about writing a story, a background that linked three individual Freeblade Imperial Knights with the Legion of the Damned.

Imperial Knights cursed by the spirits of the souls it has failed to protect… at least that’s a background story for one of the knights. All of them chasing after the Legion of the Damned across the universe in search of salvation or redemption - striding through flaming death and creating a path of destruction!

I thought it was cool and it certainly motivated me to model and paint some crazy models, as well as create at Display base to et them off.

I got to push my hobby skills by modelling flames and bones with the result being each model had their own unique personality. At it's heart getting the Army theme was the biggest inspiration and the rest is just a very cool hobby project.

You can read my colourful background story and the army list for the force if you download the .pdf.

Knights of Damnation - background & army list - 2015
Download PDF • 1.70MB

What Unit, regiment or story has captured your imagination in a way that you might be able to use it as the inspiration for an Army?


In the next installment I look at how you can reuse, refurbish or reimagine an idea, giving it a second chance to capture imaginations. And how ‘Slaves to Darkness’ published in 1988, inspired not one but two painting and modeling projects.


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