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EDITORIAL: It’s So Fluffy I’m Gonna Die. Part III of V: Going Completely Off the Reservation

9 Minute Read
Oct 22 2011

a guest series by Douglas Hildebrand

Sometimes you can’t stop that burning desire to create.  Its time to get out the pen, X-acto, and brew up a total proxy army-codex.

Okay, the last fluffy article I made a Black Templar replacement army – Beast Templar. The models and storyline pigeon-holed them into one codex. Not bad if you want to stick with the one codex. What if there are other codexes/codii/book thingies (pick your poison) you want to use? What if there are other fantasy models you want to use? Oh snap, you know where we are going with this one. How about an entire army of proxy models?

Without much fanfare we are going to jump straight to the models I wanted from Warhammer Fantasy to use in the 40K game. Lizard Men. Before you go there……NO I AM NOT GOING TO DO SALAMANDERS. Too obvious. Too easy of a target. Too sad of a pun, even for me. You could apply this concept to Salamanders if you wish, but I just refuse to go there. We are doing Lizard Marines!

I just like the feel of that big gaping maw coming at you across the table in power armor and wielding a bolter. Plus, they have so many awesome models. These models really ratchet up the fierceness factor and make for a striking army.

Okay, let’s justify these models. I could just take the previous storyline and change the names and a few descriptors. It would work….sort of. That would be the cheap way out, and if I needed a quick fix it would do. I didn’t need a quick fix; it was going to take some time to get this army tabletop ready. Plus, if I was going to put this much time into a conversion force, it was going to have its own storyline.

The initial intent for this army was to use the Codex Space Marines. That is how it was built and initially played at a GT. I have since decided that the force needed to be changed, but that is the next article. Get some coffee and another donut, get comfortable, and here we go with the initial storyline:

The Rise of High Chieftain Kraq Roq and the Spawn of the Celestial Pool

Deep in Sector VII is a system that has a rare double orbit set of planets. The planets of Saurian I and Saurian II are very similar in composition and climate to ancient Terra, with the bulk of the Saurian inhabitants living in the equatorial regions. The planets would be prime candidates for Imperial colonization if not for a few anomalies that have concerned Adeptus Priests. Firstly, both planets have a primitive upright walking reptilian population as the dominant species. Not two similar species, but two groups of the same species that appear to have some idea of the others’ existence. Secondly, there have been a number of warp disturbances that have gone unexplained in the area.


A contingent of Adeptus priests were sent into the region in order to determine if the planets could be used for colonization. If the warp disturbances were a precursor to another rip in the fabric of the continuum the Empire of Man did not want to expend the resources to colonize the planets only to have them drawn into a warp hole to bolster the forces of Chaos. Also, if the Saurian species had traveled between the two planets there may be some ancient technologies that need to be discovered and preserved before terra-forming crews began to prep the land for colonists.

The Saurian population proved to be a very capable labor force for the Adeptus Priests that arrived on the planet surface. The Adeptus priests analyzed the Saurian physiology and determined that they have a limited intellectual capability. It was concluded that their culture would probably never reach beyond the rudimentary level at which it is currently functioning. The savage cultures are dominated by a Chieftain that acts as warlord and dictator. The Chieftain is typically the biggest and strongest fighter in the group. Greatness of the chieftain is measured by the size of the temples his slaves build and the number of foes he can conquer and bring under his control. This keeps the different tribes in a state a perpetual tension as they vie for resources and dominance. The species seem to have knowledge of each other because Saurian legends speak of a great chieftain that would reunite the “lost tribes” from the celestial pond and rule the stars. The Saurian holy season (the time when they wage war) coincides with the time period when the sister planet is in the evening sky. This pattern to the society is seen on both planets. The fact that the two planets have no contact, yet are identical in culture continues to fascinate and frustrate the Adeptus priests.

Though the species is very capable as a labor force, it is problematic. Their ferocity and ill temper makes them hard to control. A Saurian cannot be beaten or bribed into submission; they will always fight for dominance. It is a continual struggle to keep them under control. One group of overly ambitious priests saw this as an opportunity rather than a flaw. They believed that the Saurian species could be used as a tool in the name of the Emperor. If properly trained and equipped they could be thrown at an enemy as an expendable force of destruction. There are situations where the conditions preclude the use of Imperial Guardsmen and survivability potential precludes the use of Space Marines. The Saurian species is hardier than a man, but unable to endure the full psychological and physiological changes performed on Space Marines. Their natural toughness and ferocity could be channeled and enhanced to make them a destructive force to be reckoned with. Using Space Marine equipment and technologies they set out to make uber-saurians. Fearing that their endeavors may not be completely understood, or mistaken as heretical, Operation Cold One was undertaken as a skunk-works plan. Once completed, they would unleash the destructive force in a suicide (yet tactically critical) mission. It would be the perfect example of a deep insertion force without the need for a dangerous extraction.

The force continued to build in isolation from the general population of Saurians when the wind of change came. The Tau had begun to send expeditionary forces to the planet of Frampton IV to convert/conquer the populace. The word that something is happening on Frampton IV was intercepted by the priests on Saurian II. In the priest’s interpretation of the events; once Frampton comes alive with open warfare the Imperial Guard garrison would be inadequate. The newly christened Cold Ones were sent forth to attack the Tau forces as a delaying tactic to allow additional Imperial forces to arrive to finish repelling the Tau incursion. This, in their mind, would prove in a real time situation the merit of the work they had done. The plan was that as the Imperial Guard garrison continued to be depleted the Cold Ones would land, attack the Tau, be killed off by the Tau’s superior firepower, but delay the Tau sufficiently to allow Imperial reinforcements to finish the mission. One major oversight: these were tech priests, and not generals, making the assessments.

Either they severely underestimated the abilities of the Cold Ones, or they severely overestimated the firepower of the Tau force on Frampton IV, but the plan did not work as conceived. When Imperial reinforcements arrived they found that the Tau force and Imperial Guard garrison had been gruesomely rendered limb from limb and a large portion of the population had been taken. To the newly arrived forces the situation resembled a classic Dark Eldar scenario of hit and run. The Dark Eldar fall upon a world torn by warfare, kill what they can, take hostages, and run before the victim can reinforce itself. The stories of “giant armored lizard” were dismissed as the effect of some airborne drugs introduced into the atmosphere by Haemonculi or possibly a taint of Chaos. The planet was bio-bombed to ensure it wasn’t the latter.

The priests on Saurian I and II do not know what went wrong, or what their next course of action will be. If they reveal what they have done, they will be held responsible for the deaths of millions on Frampton IV and probably condemned as heretics; but if they don’t, the force they created will have to be dealt with. Communication with the Cold One fleet has been lost, so they are unable to assess how large of a force still exists. It is not known if the tech priests are even at the helm of the ships, and if they are in control, are they untainted by Chaos. A host of questions are being argued and conjectured upon: Why were captives taken? Why aren’t the communication systems functioning? How many Uber-Saurians survived? How did they survive? Who extracted them from the planet surface, and why? What do they want, if anything? Will they be friendly? Can all involved be trusted to maintain secrecy?

The only thing that is for certain is that the ships will return on the cusp of the Holy Season.


This is where I initially stopped. I used the Marine codex to build the force because that was the equipment they were supplied with according to the back story. For the conversions of the models I followed along the same lines as I had with the previous Beast Templar – Marines without pants.

Cold Ones were used as bikes:

A Dreadnought was a Beast Dominatrix (you know you want a Dominatrix in your army). I considered that big gaping maw as the power weapon. That will mess you up as bad as any metal fist. Weapon destroyed would be breaking its jaw so it couldn’t bite your head off:

I had some previous generation Razorbacks and a Predator gathering dust that I believed if I pimp’em out enough no-one will care they are the old models. This is what the Predator looks like:

Initially, when I did this model I pressed my thumb into each scale to use my fingerprint to create a pattern on each one. I thought it would represent the ridges and texture found on a turtle’s shell. The first feedback I received was “I like the model, but you have fingerprints all over it”. I took it home and sanded down the ridges and repainted it.

The other Razorback. I added some tribal art with an imperial twist on the side. The skull dozer blade came from the dollar store:

This was the first iteration of the force. It was built generic enough that I could adapt it to most forces with a few additions or tweaks. That was probably the best part about this force – as well as the worst part. If it could be almost anything, then it could be misinterpreted as almost anything else (even a Space Wolves proxy ….gasp, please no). I set out to correct that. They needed items or icons that would help define where they fit in the whole scheme of things. I had been using various bitz of other space marine chapters as trophies and to help emphasize the piecemeal approach to creating the force from the storyline, so they were a bit all over the map.

I needed something to pull the theme together (besides being pantless lizards in power armor). And more importantly, I had some ideas that would not fit in the boundaries of the Space Marine codex. I wasn’t looking to do a melt and repour, but more of a fine-tuning of the story and models. I decided to pick a single direction and go with it (not that I couldn’t go in another direction later……).

Any constructive criticism is welcome on the storyline or models. You are welcome to use the idea as well. I would be thrilled to meet another Lizard Marine player one day.


Next installment will be the new direction – It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die Part IV: Fall to Khorne… as it should be.

~So how far have you gone in your own army modeling?  What’s the best total proxy army you’ve ever encountered?

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