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.”
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.