I’ve never been a fan of Dwarves. It’s not a heightist thing – if that’s even a word – it’s a Dwarves in fantasy can be a bit boring a shit thing. Lord of the Rings movies nearly saved Dwarves for me until the moment Gimli uttered the immortal line “Nobody Tosses a Dwarf!” Oh God good why Peter! Why?
Anyway, so yes my dislike of Dwarves, not going to mention Chaos Dwarves (don’t want to head down that road), is a dislike I have had for many a year. That is until recently, when Phil showed me Godslayer by Megalith Games. Now if you don’t know Godslayer, which if you are a regular reader of The Shell Case I would be surprised at, in short it’s a 28mm Skirmish game with a choice of 6 Factions the Banebrood, Halodynes, Mortans, Nordgaard, Troglodytes and The Wyldfolk of Annyr. It has also recently celebrated its 1st Birthday, so a big congratulations to the guys at Megalith on this milestone.
Recently Megalith Games have announced a few new miniatures around the Nordgaard faction and for the first time that I can ever recall I found myself liking Dwarves but not just liking Dwarves these models are for want of a better word AWESOME, honestly, so much want as Phil would say, they truly are epic, everything the Games Workshop models aren’t.
I think my actual words to Phil were “I never liked Dwarves before I saw these models”. Which is what has led me to writing this. Now I could easily and happily gush about how much I love these models and the amazing quality of the sculpts and how the braided beards just look awesome and how much I want to tug on them… ahem sorry too far. But I really wanted to do something with a bit of substance and so I fired off an email to the chaps at Megalith Games wanting to know a bit more about the inspiration behind the Nordgaard, and David was kind enough to take the time to reply.
I really wanted to find out where the concept for the Noordgard came from, yes it’s clear that they have drawn on Norse influences but I thought there had to be more to it than that anyway this is what David had to say about the Noordgard.
The inspiration for the Nordgaard Dwarves (and the entire faction) was Norse mythology. The Nordgaard faction (of which the Dwarves are the biggest component) include human warriors called Skannfyrd and Ogre warriors called Myrgaerder, as well as allied Giants called Fjellgangr and Dire wolves called Bloodvargs. All of these united and formed a hybrid culture over a period of several thousand years, and Nordgaard is in fact the oldest existing kingdom on the continent of Ghorn where Godslayer is focussed. The reason for their uniting was firstly necessity, and secondly the fact that they share a bond of common blood and worship. The Old Gods called the Vanitans include the Stone Gods Gaard and Arguthon, who created the Dwarves. A separate pantheon of gods worshipped by Mortals (called the Vaettir) were worshipped by the Skannyr tribes. Contact between the Vaettir and Vanitans led to the birth of two divine brothers, one of which embraced his Mortal/Vaettir side, and the other who embraced his Vanitan heritage. Both were instrumental in forming the kingdom of Nordgaard and became its patron deities.
Andre – co-founder of Megalith Games and co-developer of Godslayer – was most focussed on this faction. This is because Andre was a long-term fan and collector of Dwarves, and also interested in Viking culture. He made the initial design of the Dwarves and with very little corrections we were able to get our team of freelance artists to draw them according to Andre’s vision.
It was Andre’s specific wish that people should be able to see the legs of our Dwarves, and that they should be muscular and realistic, not fat blobs in chainmail overcoats with little boot tips poking out from underneath
Our artists all understood the brief and did well producing the art.
I can totally get on board with Andres vision, if you look at the Mountain Clan for example you can clearly see their legs and to be honest not a huge amount of chain mail in sight, and the one thing that really stands out is that they are in proportion. They don’t have ridiculously over sized muscles and short dumpy legs, and I think this is what my problem has always been with Dwarves. They are the aforementioned blobs in chainmail.
Models aside the artwork for the Noordgard is stunning. It’s the kind of stuff I aspired to back at Art College, and again the thing I find with the Noordgard is they don’t look like your typical Dwarves. Yes the usual tell-tale signs are there, but just looking at the artwork you get an impression of real depth and power and you almost forget they are ‘Dwarves’.
And before people get up in arms, that’s exactly what Dwarves should be they should epitomise depth and power. They an impossibly ancient race of people who combine strength, wisdom and generally in most fiction a thick skull and stubbornness. Megalith has so got the idea of Dwarves totally right in my book.
Now once the artwork was done and the concept for the Noordgard complete they needed to get the models created, now what David told me next got me thinking and this will make sense in a moment, but I love the idea of a secret group of sculptors somewhere with alter-egos just cropping up to help with projects they deem worthy.
The sculptor of the starter box Dwarves was an international man of mystery who goes by the code-name “KulAsyrk” (he prefers to remain anonymous). He had been sculpting for only a couple of years when he took on our commission, and he made for us:
Brewer of Odrorir
I have to say his work from what I have seen is stunning I will admit I am yet to get my hands on any of the models but from the high detailed photography you can see the detail that KulAsyrk has gone to town on these models, from the tools on the belt of the Warsmith to the ale sloshing out of the Brewer of Odrorir’s Horn.
The Brewer of Odrorir is one of my favourite miniatures in the range, he has a real look of pure “I’m going to mess up your day in a violent and unfriendly way”.
He worked from the artwork, and produced excellent sculpts first time. In fact they were the very first Godslayer miniatures sculpted. KulAsyrk made the transition to 3D sculptor and continues to be one of our primary sculptors, and sculpted the Kinswords of the Nordgaard faction among many others.
However, the recent Dwarves were sculpted by Scibor. Scibor is world-famous for his amazing Dwarves, so we approached him and begged him to sculpt for us since we were fans of his work, and he kindly accepted. Scibor sculpted the runegate Keeper and the Einherjer.
All of the Dwarves are cast using normal white metal in rubber molds.
I don’t think I’ve written an article yet where I don’t harp on about Scibor, and it seems yet again I have that opportunity, but in all seriousness if you want some amazing looking Dwarves, he’s the guy to go to his work is outstanding and the Runegate Keeper looks to be a truly awesome model from the detail of the braided beard to the stern look in his eye of “this axe + your face = good times” and the theme carried across the Runegate Keeper and the Einherjer’s armour to say I’m a fan is an understatement. And that’s not just of Scibor but of Megalith Games, Godslayer and The Nordgaard.
I know exactly what faction I will field in my first outing into Godslayer and honestly I can’t wait to play with the Dwarves. [Fnar fnar. -Ed.]