Shrines, Donn'Alaich Sian, and The Age Of Styrofoam

I was sort of hoping that by now I'd have something actually done to show you, but the truth is that the scope of what I'm trying to do is so large that I am still very much in the planning stage. I have, in fact, done some work with the pink foam you saw three days ago by gluing eight 2'X4' pieces together to make two 4'X4' pieces. I glued two 2'x4's together to make a single 4'X4', with the seam running left and right. Then I glued another pair on top of the first two, just with the seam running up and down. I believe this will give me some functional structure. Not much structure, but structure nonetheless.

I am making four Aspect shrines for this table. While I don't intend to make this project into the kind of back-breaker that will be so involved, so detailed and so obsessive-compulsive that my grandchildren will still be talking about it, I have put in some time researching the scenery and, specifically, what I want the Aspect shrines to look like.

For the four shrines I have chosen four Aspects, and they were selected based on somethinb ery simple: Which of the Phoenix Lords I own. I have Maugen Ra, Asurmen, Fuegan and Karandras... therefore, I am planning to do a Dark Reaper shrine, a Dire Avengers shrine, a Fire Dragons shrine, and a Striking Scorpions shrine. Let me show you what I've seen on the web that caught my eye...

This concept was a "leftover", so to speak, in that it didn't ust jump out at me as being reminscent of any particular Aspect. Even so, the shape and lines of it really lend itself well to a simple, small and elegant shrine for one aspect or another. I can't say whether or not I'm going to use this as inspiration for something I actually build yet; I'll probably have to actually make one to start with and see where my druthers take me.
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These two Chinese shrines will form the basis for my Dire Avengers concept. The end result will be simple: Four walls, a roof, perhaps some stairs... but there will be some very Chinese trappings (those of you who are familiar with the Iyanden icon which depicts a stylized version of the Shrine of Asur will already see the resemblance). Though I don't intend to do interiors for the Donn'Alaich Sian Aspect shrines, the Dire Avengers shrine will be somewhat open-air, and I will include a matted or tiled floor and a brazier that holds a flame, which is a tribute to Asur (the brazier will be the model of Galadriel's Mirror from the Lord of the Rings line). Some of you might remember the story of the Chinese Dragon. Well, I got another one and I will position them both outside of the Dire Avengers shrine as guardians of some kind (guardians.. not Guardians). I believe I will park the statue of Asurmen on top of the shrine. We'll see how I feel.
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While the Dire Avengers shrine will have a mystical, airy feel to it, I want the Striking Scorpion shrine to be more earthy and (for lack of a beter word) unkind; brick and stone and no "air" to it whatsoever. I borrowed some Mayan designs that I like (and you can see below). One thing that I'm not sure how I'll use yet is this small but very real scorpion I bought a few weeks ago, encased in a clear lucite chunk (just in case you can't figure this out by the fact that he's trapped in lucite... yes, he's dead). I have a pretty good idea, however: I will likely sink the oval-shaped lucite thing into the stop of the shrine and ornament it with some Eldary bits. It'll look better than I make it sound, I swear.
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I can't say I'm sure how I will manifest this shrine properly. Obviously it's more than a shrine in the photo, but I will likely make the towers much taller, narrower, place something atop of each spire (I'm thinking something which looks like a crystal) and make my Fire Dragon aspect shrine.
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This is one of my favorite because even though it's obviously not a European design, there's something about it which reminds me of the catacombs in Paris. The temple seems to just reek with death, but not in a gross-out, horror-movie way, but more in a stygian sense. This, naturally, will be my Dark Reapers shrine. What's really cool is that I have a friend who works at Reaper Mini (I believe I've mentioned this) and he's introduced me to several of their products, including the paints. Each of their paint bottles has an agitator in it (so that when you shake the bottle the paint gets mixed well), and what not everyone knows is that it's a tiny metal skull. The cool thing is that my buddy is going to give me about a hundred of the little skulls (which perfectly fit the 40k scale), and I'll use drywall compound to cover the outer walls of the Reaper shrine with them, thus exaggerating the stygian aspect and echoing the look of the Reaper masks themselves.
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These last two items are, as you can probably tell at a glance, not real shrines or temples. They're buildings from the 40k-based computer game, Dawn Of War. The one on the left is called a Soul Shrine, and the one on the right is an Aspect Portal. Now, the way these function in the video game are completely irrelevant to how I intend to use them on the table. First, I'll make several Soul Shrines of roughly 4"x6"x.5" dimensions and will scatter them about the table as additional terrain (and cover). I will, however, model battle damage on them, as they were present when Marines tried to wipe the Craftworld out permanently (I found a great way to emulate the appearance of rocket damage that works great on styrofoam). The Aspect Portal will really only be the basis for a design I use to make a Wraithgate, which will sit in the middle of the table, sourrounded by the four Aspect shrines. What an Aspect Portal may do in Dawn of War is one thing, but this model will be meant to represent the center of the configuration (warriors would meditate at the shrines before battle and then walk through the Wraithgate to pass into the Warp and emerge into the fray via Ulthwe Strike Force Wraithgate or Storm Serpent or something similar). I don't think it'll be used as an in-game objective (at least not in the big game we have planned), but I think it'll make the table look great.
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And me? Yeah, I've destroyed a few pieces of foam trying to figure out how to do things like carve runes or make realistic-looking missile holes, but really all I've accomplished so far is a whole lot of conceptualization and not much else. At least my brain is working, even if my hands aren't getting down to the job just yet.
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By tomorrow night the glue used on the two 4X4 styrofoam constructs that constitute the foundation of the Craftworld Donn'Alaich Sian table will be dry, and I'm going to start picking a spot to start on and going to work.

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