07 March 2017

Commissar Ciaphas Cain - Hero of the Imperium

For this post I'll once again stroll off my habitual historical path and will enter the grim darkness of the far future. All kinds of threats are roaming between the stars, the home of a mankind beset by enemies from the outside as well as from within. It's the 41st millennium and everything is dark and humorless.

Everything? No, not everything, at least not everyone. Amidst all the darkness surrounding men there's light. Commissar Ciaphas Cain - Hero of the Imperium. Together with his trusted and malodorous aide Gunner Jurgen, Cain time and again braves all kinds of threads a remorseless galaxy can throw at him.

Ciaphas Cain is a political Commissar in the Imperial Guard, the hammer of the Imperium, the last line of defense between mankind and utter destruction. Commissars are meant to lead by example. They are meant to inspire the guardsmen under their 'care' through uplifting speeches and the occasional bullet through the head should a soldier not feel inspired enough and fail his duty and thus the Emperor.
Not so Commissar Cain.
Having realized 'inspiration' as dealt by most of his fellow commissars often leads to a short life expectancy in the heat of battle, finds it far more useful to have soldiers watch his back instead of shooting at it.

Furthermore he's by his own accounts a coward. A coward with a reputation to lose. And as this very reputation means all kinds of privileges he normally wouldn't be privy to, he's anxious to hold that - in his eyes unmerited - reputation of heroism upright.
Unfortunately for him this, more often than not, means he finds himself in the thick of it, despite of his best efforts to stay clear of anything even remotely smelling of danger. But his instinct and sheer will to survive sees him besting any precarious situation thrown at him. But fighting off the most wicked of the enemies of mankind leads to his reputation growing even further with every dangerous mission he returns from. This in turn means he has to fight even harder to maintain it... a vicious circle indeed.

Cain wouldn't have lived into his second century without the unquestioning loyalty of his personal aide Gunner Jurgen. Jurgen, a Valhallan by birth, is of a - to put it mildly - somewhat unprepossessing appearance. He's with some certainty the dirtiest and smelliest soldier in the whole of the guard, and would probably not smell out of place amidst an orcish warband. Cain has grown accustomed to his aides body odour over the decades but still does his best to stay upwind of Jurgen.

But hidden behind the dissuasive facade of Jurgen there's a rather peculiar ability. Jurgen is a blank. Meaning he's unaffected by any kind of psychic abilities the enemy may field to further his goals. More so he also creates a kind of psychic void around him, meaning those in his immediate vicinity also are safe from (psychic-) harm. Of course this means Commissar Cain stays as close to Jurgen at all times as breathing allows. A second, more mundane quality of Jurgen that Cain has learned to appreciate is his unquestioning loyalty towards the Commissariat and Cain in particular.
No matter what Cain asks of him, Jurgen - with a single minded determination - will do everything to fulfill his task, even when this means he has to put his life on the line. More than once Jurgens determination alone was all that stood between Cain and death dealt by one of his enemies.

As is probably evident from my enthusiastic ramblings, I'm an avid fan of the Ciaphas Cain novels by  Alexander Michael Stewart aka Sandy Mitchel. With Cain (as well as Jurgen and the rather uncharacteristic female Inquisitor Amberly Vail) he has succeeded in creating a set of believable* and even funny, but not not hilarious, characters amidst the grim darkness of GW's Warhammer 40k universe.
Ever since I first read the novels I wanted to create my own Ciaphas Cain. And truth be told I'm rather chuffed by how my interpretation has turned out.

*at least more so than most of GW's Uber-humans that seem to lack any sort of human emotions as well as any kind of humor.


  1. Oh! Fantastic work! Your WH40 is also masterclass!

  2. So dynamic...and beautiful! Love the bases as well...

  3. Cracking work on these Nick! Sometimes it's fun to dabble off the historical road here and there to just be creative.


  4. Absolutely beautiful work Nick, real top drawer.

  5. A brilliant entry and wonderful homage to a character that has kept me chuckling for years!

  6. I will repeat my praise on the AHPC blog, this was a lovely entry, well written. The brushwork is very impressive, and the backstory is great. I may look for these books at my local library.

  7. Wow Moiterei, just wow! You did an excellent job on these minis. :)

  8. These figures bring back good memories and your painting shows them off at their best.