Navigators of House Akuhm

I built this warband to use in the Curse of the Alabaster game organized by Shibboleth in Los Angeles last fall. The warband started off as just a new group of Merz-Itano navigators, but I soon realized I the models were heading in new direction and decided to turn them into a group from a different Navigator House. This allowed me to really focus on a few visual motifs combined in various combinations throughout the warband; bulbous featureless helmets, extended legs, layered cloth, ribbed armor, fur trims, etc. It was also a chance to work with a simpler, more minimalist and classic sci-fi approach. I am naturally inclined to clutter models with tons of detail (which can look great) so it was a good challenging to build characterful models by removing detail and including some blank surfaces and larger forms.

The Navis Nobilite were of course originally created for the singular purpose of guiding ships through the warp. It is commonly believed that all Navigators are steersman, and vice versa, but this is a misconception. In fact not all Navis Nobilite train as steersman, and many do not naturally take to the practice. These less talented Navis Nobilite instead tend to focus on the affairs of the household (courtly intrigue and political maneuvers), and see themselves as the true stewards of the house, their steersman kin little more than resources to be exploited.

There is however a third type of Navigator, one gifted with powerful abilities, but not the traditional talents of a steersman. Some of these gifted Navigators instead turn their third eye towards the strands of fate — these are the Prognosticantors and Aetherprophets. Others, the Aethertwisters and Navimancers, instead focus on exerting their will onto reality. These Navigators are believers in the Paragnostic truth: that what is known as “reality” is in fact not stable and fixed, and is only an illusion, a thin membrane of physical laws stretched over the churning, chaotic warp. It’s impossible to say if the Paragnostics are correct, or are merely rationalizing their powerful psychic abilities, but they have a demonstrable ability to bend reality to their will.

Navimancer Thanerrat is a devout Paragnostic disciple, and a fervent believer in the credo “It is through will alone that I shape reality.”

Navimancer Thanerrat Akuhm

Like most Navigator households, House Akuhm employs a wide variety of retainers, bodyguards, and hired mercenaries. The most trusted and prized are the Guild Militants: elite body-guards augmented by the finest Akuhm tech artisans, and trained and specialized in one form of combat. Every Guild Militant is chem-imprinted to their sworn master, and Akuhm Navis Nobilite will invariably be protected by one or more Militants.

The Custodian is a master fencer and devoted guardian, outfitted with a Tumnal rig (digitigrade leg extensions) to allow him to quickly vault to his master’s side should any danger arise. The Duelist is an expert gunfighter, trained to excel in both the highly ritualized duels of Court and in open warfare. Her ears were removed and the auditory processing regions of her brain repurposed to process the auxiliary visual feeds from her shoulder mounted pan-optics. Now deaf, she has become quite adept at lip reading and mostly communicates with her fellow Militants through their common battle language of hand-signs and body postures.

Here we see more servants. The Voidwalker Militant, outfitted with an open-space voidsuit and thruster pack, specializes in ship-to-ship sorties and reconnaissance as well as emergency evacuations in cases of gravity and/or environment loss. The suspensor-nodes at the tip of each wing are used for gravitic thrusting in unstable or null-g environments, but function equally well within a gravity well, allowing for full flight capabilities and deft maneuvering.

The threatfinder general is a master of information, equipped with countless scanning systems and technologies, always searching for any threat that may emerge.

The Ashlagli veteran is a mere soldier, conscripted out the Imperial Guard to serve House Akuhm directly.

Navis Nobilite power struggles are just as violent and internecine as those of more conventional Imperial Nobility, if not more so. And so, like most navigators, Navimancer Thanerrat Akuhm employs many body-guards and protectors. When traveling in unknown conditions she frequently brings one of her house’s antique Personal Defense Drones.

Hovering on grav-repulsors, the drone is trained to use its armored bulk as a shield, even blocking open doorways and sealing off narrow passageways. And if all points of escape are sealed off, the drone can always open a new one with its integrated wall-cutter gun. Many assume that these drones are simply programed automatons controlled by data wafers (or a foul intelligence), but in fact they are more accurately classified as a type of servitor and are piloted by an internal biological unit, most often the head of a beloved servant.

House Akuhm is immensely wealthy, and Thaneratt never travels without her most valuable possessions, heirlooms, and supplies. When traveling, a trusty household Pack Valet will often carry this baggage. Vat-grown and cybernetically enhanced, the Pack Valet also functions as a formidable body guard and (when appropriately chem-goaded) battering ram.

The Navigator gene is unpredictable, and can result in all manner of strange mutations, some that only manifest late in life. Warp-scrying is an inherently dangerous act; to expose a mind, even a bio-engineered and highly trained one, to the fundamentally impossible nature of the Warp is to invite madness. Navigators are naturally predisposed to very long life-spans, but are all too aware of the risks they face, and how likely it is that their journeys will end in madness, damnation, and mutation.

Every household handles these unfortunate cases in different ways. Many, like house Akuhm, declare them Navis Abominus, and confine them to Amniocoffins, locking them inside sensory and warp deprivation chambers for their own protection. It is unclear precisely why a Navis Abominus is allowed to live, or indeed why their Amniocoffins are so often inscribed with arcane runes and protective wards. Some say that Navis Abominii are prisoners, preserved until their genetic material can be harvested and analyzed and they can be safely disposed of. But others would point out that Navis Abominii are not treated like prisoners, and are in fact venerated as holy, shamanic figures. Ultimately the truth is somewhere in between. They are threshold-sitters who have journeyed far beyond understanding, equally worthy of veneration, pity, and fear.

Relationships between Navigator Households are invariably fraught and complex. Every household jealously guards their collections of genetic material, astral mapping data, and intelligence on Imperial personnel and fleets. But the only way Lesser Houses can ever hope to stand-up to the Major Houses is if they form alliances, such as the one brewing between House Akuhm and House Merz-Itano.


18 Comments on “Navigators of House Akuhm

  1. Beautiful.
    What is next? More Navigators, or something else entirely?
    I can only imagine the heights to which a third navigator-household would soar.

    • That’s a good question! At some point I want to expand House Akuhm beyond this warband. I’ve got a bunch of WIP models that may or may not get completed, and include some Akuhm Navigators out of armor (it seems they have rather long faces) a few more drones, a giant robot, and a large hover-crawler.

      But I do love the idea of a third Navigator house — there are lots of other directions to go in. After this almost cyberpunk and Starwars-like group, embracing the gothic excess of 40k is appealing. I could see focusing on noble-court decadence (I would love to turn a group of Tzeentch Kairite Acolytes into Sting-like consort-guards), religious devotion (what do the navigators who pilot Ministorum ships look like?), or even something darker …

      But there’s also AoS28!

  2. You already know that your House Merz-Itano is basically my favourite 40k hobby project, but to see you simply knocking out yet another Navigator house with a very distinct look and feel of its own — madness!

    For me, it’s a toss-up between Thanerrat Akhum (the layered cloth just does it for me, especially since it’s a beautiful way of making the shape of his (?) body delightfully ambiguous, the Ashlagi veteran, who brilliantly mixes used-universe SciFi and medieval Japanese aesthetics, and – of course – the walking tank, whose general “Tachikoma-ness” just resonates with me.

    Looking at the entire group again, it seems like a missing link between Japanese influences and French Graphic novel touches. And it almost moves beyond the visual language established by 40k to be its own thing. What a brilliant project!

    • Thank you Krautscientist, that means so much!

      I was definitely thinking a lot about Moebius, MaK and associated japanese kitbash artists, and lots of similar stuff, and am glad it came through.

      I dearly love the visual language of 40k, but at the same time it’s fun to play with it, and push and pull it in different directions.

  3. I agree with krauty , this is beyond 40k , or certainly beyond the current visual language 40k strives to attain within the imperium of man. The classic sci fi moebius akira bladerunner aesthetic is more akin to rogue trader , An era where many visual styles sat alongside each other to form a much more eclectic \ upbeat \ hopefull? vision of the dark millennium . I personally love all these differing takes on 40k , from tau to eldar and nids , all add depth and interest to this shared mythology . Your brilliancy is to aknowledge the value within the difference with these differing sci fi tropes and create truly original and beautiful models that encapsulate an as yet untapped potential style for the imperium . I myself am looking forwards to experimenting with differing styles for the human factions other than the gothic entropic style i am most used to. I get the sense that these styles will become even more emergent as younger designers at gw rediscover the varied brilliancy of the original rogue trader book. You could argue that the rereleased hybrids are already establishing such a classic look , and now brightly painted death world plants and a reawoken primarch that hates staid dogma and the imperial cult.._ could the monastic death cult that is 40k as we know it be changing back to a pre skull homage format. ? Back on topic . The skill with Which you create new sillouttes through combination and conversion is enviable . The two groups look fabulous together.Nice work on the narrative too , i love the thought of a warp deprivation tank.

    • Thanks so much Neil, it is so satisfying getting such an insightful response. You are not off topic at all; Rogue Trader was my introduction to the hobby, and as rough and bodged together the universe was in parts, the wild energy of those differences still just inspires me so much. The setting is so vast, with millions of long-forgotten colonized worlds ready to be brought back into the Imperial fold, each with wildly different histories, cultures, and aesthetics. Originally that was probably largely because the game was designed to let players use whatever models they happened to have (this is a corollary to Stark Trek OST’s use of Wild West and Ancient Roman planets; the difference is Rogue Trader actually justifies them as part of the basic conceit). I don’t really think a setting like that could ever be adequately represented with any stock line of models, no matter how amazing the models were, just because that leads to a level of standardization that seems out of place to me. I think you’re right about the new generation of sculptors looking to Rogue Trader and capturing some of that vast scope, and I’m so curious to see where they go next.

      I think the more “hopeful” look of these models may be partially a result of me reacting to the last year or two of GW releases. The new models are so wonderful off-the-rack, maybe for the first time truly capturing the look of the best 40k artwork, that it puts the converter in an interesting position. For a long time In28 converting has largely been about making the models embody the setting and art, and now the models don’t even need to be converted to do that. So in response I ended up instead trying to push the models in a different direction. You have really mastered a particularly personal and haunting take on the grim 40k aesthetic with your Age of Darthur series, so I really look forward to seeing your take on other human styles!

      I should say that I wouldn’t call House Akuhm “good” or hopeful in a background sense (I think of them as sort of representing the evil megacorp trope), but it would be a fun challenge to create an actual group of good guys. The rise of global fascism and now American Neo-Nazis appropriating 40k imagery for their foul memes certainly makes me want to react somehow. Either make some Space Marines that are clearly depicted as the bad guys they always have been (come on, they are kidnapped child-soldier fascist deathsquads! I’ve never been really comfortable with them treated as heroes in unironic ways), or a true group of resistance fighters. I’d say a Sensei and his band but that’s just more magical blood-line stuff … maybe oppressed mutant freedom fighters …

      • I agree that gw has met and exceeded the gothic ad mech style inq28 strived to represent the past 6 years. I literally will not convert my burgeoning ad mech collection . There is no need , they are perfect ,both 40k and 30k. They nailed it. So like you say , that leaves some converters free to look in other areas . You do this better than most. I Didn’t mean to suggest your navigators were good guys though, they still exude grimness , just not as much as a skull laden gothic black red silver and gold grimness :-) yeah sensei stuff is fun , but there is so much potential within the vastness of the galaxy . I have a few ideas that are only possible because of the kind of kits now being produced . Although i cant wait to see What they do with necromunda. Will we see plastic van saar still suits ._?

  4. These are so unique and creative. I can see how much you enjoyed making them and bringing them to life. Awesome work.

    • Thank you! Your truly
      unique army projects have inspired me for so long so that’s wonderful to hear.

  5. Such a strong aesthetic. I particularly like the Abominus – that yellow and white seems so fresh to me, so unusual in a 40k model: bringing these graphic design and anime colour trends to the grimdark.

    My favourite projects are the ones that take inspiration from outside Warhammer and then parse it through familiar 40k or Fantasy concepts.

    • Indeed! I’m also really happy with the bright acid yellow and if I ever finish any more Akuhm models I might start switching relationships between the white, grey, orange, and yellow. I could see a mostly orange vehicle or a Navigator in acid yellow cloaks sitting nicely alongside this group, for example.

  6. Those are some of the most inspiring and mind-blowingly impressive conversions i am aware of. Of the kind one could get angry about NOT having created them yourself.


  7. These really are profoundly amazing miniatures, Isaac: I even prefer this iteration of them to their precursors, not least as I’m really pleased that you’ve diversified your explorations into the Navigator trope – easily my favourite under-developed bit of 40k lore.

    These are really, really beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *