The Imperial Knights Sally Forth
Imperial Knights were introduced as a prominent faction for Space Marine (the precursor to Epic 40,000 released around 1990). This initial release laid the groundwork for the Questor Imperialis faction we now know and love today in Warhammer 40,000. The first Imperial Knights were kept quite vague - they served the Imperium, inhabited feudal worlds and behaved...well, like knights. Officially, much like one half of the 2013 revamped versions, they owed fealty to a specific Forge World and thus supported the Adeptus Mechanicus and their Titan Legions. The medieval heraldry and overall aesthetic was spot-on for Warhammer 40,000’s gothic future setting, but beyond the broad strokes we didn’t get a ton of information about who piloted them, why they fight, or to what degree they were involved in Imperial affairs.
House Mortimer was one of those original knight houses, bearing a garish yellow and purple paint scheme, their heraldry consisting of scrolls of text and tyranid bio-forms. Today some players choose to interpret this as an entire knight house infected by a Genestealer Cult...but I believe that House Mortimer fought in the Tyrannic Wars, taking their heraldry from many victories over Tyranid forces. The Genestealer Cult had not yet been invented when Imperial Knights were first unveiled - they arrived a year later in 1991. But “Hive War” - the expansion which introduced Tyranids to the Epic 40,000/Space Marine battlefield, came at the same time as Imperial Knights - thus reinforcing my theory.
Forging the Narrative
|House Mortimer’s Coat of Arms|
There’s always been ONE thing that shone like a beacon in the night, a phrase which first showed up in 6th or 7th edition: Forge The Narrative. It’s such a simple, yet effective way of reinforcing what Warhammer, in all its forms, has always been about: creating an army that’s truly your own, a reflection of your personality, your creativity and your ideals, and waging war amidst the backdrop of the grimdark future of the 41st millennium.
And so it was that my House Mortimer Knights were born. Although I’ve played many other armies before and since, that was the one force that always resonated most with me. It’s not about power, it’s not about winning games - and believe me, I caught my fair share of flak for fielding an army entirely made out of superheavy walkers - it’s about the lore, the story, and the hobby all coming together as one.
Baron Tybalt MortimerGames Workshop Blue Diamond in Las Vegas, and later Astral Games in Medford, Oregon and my personal favorite, Guardian Games in my hometown of Portland. In the end he was christened Baron Tybalt Mortimer, Slayer of the Progenitrix, Marshal of the Sanctic Host.
I have a weird fixation with commanders popping out of the hatch on their tank, mech, war machine, etc - I think it adds a lot of character, and I wanted to convey that with my first Knight. I used a Knight Paladin as his personal suit of armor, the Foehammer. It slew many enemies big and small with its battle cannon, reaper chainsword, and stomping feet (not...so much with the heavy stubbers). For Tybalt himself, surveying the battlefield, hatch open to reveal his Throne Mechanicum, I used a Death Korps of Krieg command squad miniature, holding a data-slate, and a spare arm that worked surprisingly well gripping the handrail outside the cockpit hatch. His head came from a Luminark of Hysh/Celestial Hurricanum kit from the Warhammer Fantasy Empire/Age of Sigmar Free Peoples range. I felt the goggles fit well and he looked...well not classically noble, but grimdark noble - a bit thin, weedy, possibly inbred, etc. It worked.
His Knight Paladin suit is posed standing with one foot triumphantly stomping on the corpse of a slain Tyranid Warrior, and I went to extreme measures in weathering the armor with a deep, verdigris appearance inspired by the Statue of Liberty, using Nihilakh Oxide over bronze and brass. I kept the House Mortimer paint scheme of yellow and purple present - bedecking both shoulder plates, the head cowling, and one of the ankle plates.
I figured the Baron’s suit would be truly ancient, so I weathered it even further with a good amount of Typhus Corrosion, Ryza Rust, Agrax Earthshade, and even Agrellan Earth - that last one of which I found a very interesting use for. In some instances I applied it in patches onto the hull, allowing it to crackle and split apart as it’s supposed to, then shaded over with Agrax Earthshade and Typhus Corrosion, and drybrushed with Ryza Rust. This created the perfect effect for worn out, weathered rusty metal - the kind that’s started to chip and flake.
Ser Godwin Mortimer
I imagined Ser Godwin Mortimer, Seneschal to Baron Tybalt Mortimer, the Reaper of Nox Quintus, to be an aggressive, stalwart noble with a penchant for close combat, despite his Knight Paladin’s long-range focus, his battle cannon all but forgotten as he charges into the fray with reaper chainsword at the ready.
This Knight was easily my most extensively re-posed, but looks absolutely stunning on the tabletop and was balanced very well - it’s hard to tell due to the poor picture quality (all images after this blog post have been taken with a much newer, better camera and a lightbox setup) but there’s a supporting rod attached to his right foot, keeping him supported.
In painting Ser Godwin Mortimer, I made the suit even more damaged and weathered than the other two, no doubt due to the pilot’s recklessness in battle. While the House colors are concentrated purely on the helmet, shield, and tabard, I am quite proud of the freehand and transfer work that went into them. I hand-painted the circular tyranid bio-form motif on the shield, as well as the word “Mortimer” underneath it - while I’m far from a pro painter, it was a nice challenge to tackle.
All of the Imperial Knights I worked on featured reposing and subtle conversions, kitbashing, and a few additional elements to really hammer home their individual personality and quirks. Ser Godwin here has a small angel of death statue atop his Knight’s carapace armor (borrowed from a Dark Angels kit), and the cowling above his suit’s head has a large skull sculpture.
Squire Reginald Mortimer
The Knight Errant, the final suit of my original three, is both the first I built, and my least favorite. Usually when I build a kit for the first time (especially a complex vehicle like an Imperial Knight) I build it precisely as instructed....which is probably why I like it the least. The Knight kit is still exceptional and a blast to build, but the pose I elected for feels rather static, and thus Squire Reginald is my lowest-ranking Knight.
Nevertheless, when it came to painting, I lavished attention and detail to the suit. I did some more freehand work on the shield, and paid special attention to the right pauldron, taking another Tyranid symbol - a genestealer or termagant head - and applying it to the Knight’s personal heraldry. You’ll notice the rather prominent maker’s plate on the left ankle - the red plate displaying date and location of manufacture. Each of these Knights have one, at different locations. I found that an interesting bit of detail to add to each, and the Imperial Knight transfer sheet is full of really fun details like that.
|Tybalt Mortimer’s heraldry boasted the coiled wyrm-form representing his House’s service in the Tyrannic Wars, as well as Adeptus Mechanicus sigils, cog-symbols, etc.|
|Tybalt’s left pauldron bore a modified Opus Machina - the Cog and Skull icon of the Adeptus Mechanicus, one half of the skull human, the other Genestealer (poorly hand-painted...alas). I had some fun painting the heraldic colors over Agrellan Earth - the cracked paint making this perfect effect for heavy, laquered armor paint worn over millennia.|
|Squire Reginald proudly displays the heraldry of his house: half of the Mechanicus Cog and Skull, as well as a Tyranid head shape, and the double-ringed cog that I chose to symbolize House Mortimer’s homeworld (whatever that may be) and their allegiance to the Forge World they supply.|