Thursday, September 12, 2013

Weird Cowboys and Sichlike

I like cowboys and I like horror so it should come as no surprise to find out I like Weird Western genre.  Of particular interest to me of late is a tabletop miniatures wargame called Malifaux that, while not Weird Western itself, does have Weird West elements within it along with fantasy, horror, magic and steampunk.
Malifaux, produced by a Georgia company called Wyrd (Deep South represent), is notable for having a cool setting and a fantastic range of models.  I am enamored with a particular set of models that go by the name of Death Marshals.
Two views of the Death Marshals.  Jumpy guy just mystifies me.
The Death Marshals are minions of Lady Justice of the Guild faction, the de facto LAW in Malifaux.  As minions they are not super powerful in game terms, but as a concept they are 13 flavors of badass.  A troop of cowboy warriors trained to fight necromancers, the Death Marshals serve Lady Justice with their Peacebringer guns and by dragging a coffin full of blue-green flames into which they put their foes for a long nap.
With Malifaux's 2nd edition slated for an October release we will see new models of old favorites so I'd like to take this chance to look closer at the Death Marshals of both editions.
Close up view.  Notice the gun, that becomes important in a minute.  The blue flames are quite nice as well.

The 1st Edition Death Marshals are gaunt men who study the necromantic arts in order to better fight necromancers, but are forbidden to use the magic of death themselves.  As a result they become altered physically and hide their pallid and drawn complexions under wide brimmed hats and high collared long coats.  Their Peacebringer guns (also used by the Guild gunslinging Ortega family) are actually taken directly from the signature weapons of the Darkwatch in the video game Darkwatch.  Darkwatch, you might recall, is the tale of western gunman turned vampiric vampire hunter Jericho Cross.  You can see the guns he is holding below.
Look closely at the guns...then look up at the Death Marshal again.

In fact, the Death Marshals resemble Jericho Cross, and thus the Darkwatch, in several ways just looking at the picture.  Both the Darkwatch issue pistols and the Peacebringer pistols have a curved blade at the base of the gun's grip that is used for close combat to decent effect.  It certainly looked cool in the game.

The early look at the 2e Malifaux Death Marshals provides a significant change in their iconic look.

Now we see less ornamentation in the costume, a plainer look, but the accent of chains wrapped around the forearms provides a darker more punk look and note also that the hands are now covered completely by gloves where before they were visible or bandaged.  I suspect this is due to the obvious difference in the only visible portion of the body, the head.  Where before we had pallid, drawn human faces we now have blue flame skulls a la Ghost Rider.
That's pretty badass.  The Peacebringer guns have changed as well.  Still a gun with a melee component the subtle blade on the grip has been replaced by a large blade directly beneath the barrel.  That looks familiar.  Where have I seen that before?

Hangin' Judge mini appears courtesy of Reaper Miniatures website
Oh yes, Deadlands.  The iconic Hangin' Judges, a monster famed to Deadlands fans and players, carry mystical six-shooters with huge blades on them.  So we have moved from a fairly obvious (to me anyway) homage of Darkwatch to more of a generalized mystical cowboy wraith concept with a shout out to THE original Weird Western RPG.
Undead gunslinger, also from Reaper's Deadlands line, go to Reaper's website and check 'em out.
Skeletal cowboys are cool anyway, so I can't help but like this new look.  I have long been a fan of the Soul Rangers of the video board game Atmosfear and was known, when I played, for not minding if I got stuck as one.  Perhaps it is the mystique of the Old Wild Weird West, the notion of parched desert badlands with a longhorn skull sitting half buried in the dust that makes the skeletal cowboy such an intriguing image to me.  Either that or I have not outgrown my initial loves of age 8.  Works either way, really.
The three Soul Rangers from the Atmosfear VHS board game.  These pleasant fellows provide the instructional demo at the beginning of the tape.  It's worth watching just for these guys.  They did get their own game some time after Atmosfear was released.  They live in a sewer, drive motorcycles and steal souls.  It's a living.
With no information to go on aside from a picture and the 1st edition Death Marshals, I am going to surmise that exposure to the forbidden knowledge and the blue flames of the coffins they carry around has turned these human warriors into something more.  Perhaps they are now literally burning with the power they seek to contain as they fight against the evil forces of necromancy.  So while I like the original Death Marshals in concept, these new sculpts are just too much akin to my tastes for skulls and cowboys not to love.

And indeed they remind me of my favorite character from the defunct Chaos Comics universe: Bedlam.
"Remember kids, smoking is bad for you...unless you are some sort of skull faced undead Native 'Merican cowboy time traveler."
While I will probably never play Malifaux (I just can't invest that kind of money in a game, nor time for painting) I do admire these characters and the models and I can always decorate my desktop with the images.

Keep your weeds a tumblin', pards.

No comments:

Post a Comment