REMINISCENCE OF THE KEEPER OF THE FORTRESS
It was quite late in life that I was expeosed to the world of warhammer 40,000. It all happened in 1997 during a six month stay in the south of England. Prior to that time I had been mostlly a historical wargamer (both board and computer) and historical aircraft and armoure vehicle modeller. I had just got in to making some models of Star Wars fighters when I had to go to England for six months as part of my training. I discovered a small hobby shop in Taunton, Somerset where I was working while looking for a gift for the son of a family friend who was involved in a game called warhammer or something. I met the owner of the shop who also hailed from Melbourne and very rapidly learned about warhammer fantasy and 40, 000. I went on to read, learn and then buy the second edition codexes and was instantly hooked on to Dark Angels.
It was only when I returned six months later to Melbourne Australia in 1998, that I discovered the internet and the world wide web. Within the year i had discovered the huge number of web sites relating to 40K. THis was a boon especially as the second edition was about to be replaced by the third and little background fluff was available. I discovered the technology of chat boards, progressing from the Imperial Guard chat board "Command Post" through the "Warpnet" to the "Bolter + Chainsword. Very soon I was a moderator at the B+C for the Dark Angels forum.
I had at the same time written some background history for my own home made Dark Angel successor chapter, "The SHadow Guards" Having learned to hate the MkI Rhino models, which irked me a lot due to the discrepancy in scale between the troops and the armoured vehicle, I searched and found a 1:35 scale alternative in the form of the Spartan Armoured Fighting vehicle. I painted up a 2000 point army of entirely mechanized Shadow Guards and was itching to share the images on the web. At this time all I had was my trusty Olypus OM-10 SLR camera which I used to photograph the models and then scanned on a flatbed scanner. I had no idea how to share them on the web when a couple of posters on the B+C offered to upload the images on to their site.
One such poster was also the Web Master of a website appropriately called the "The Dark Angel Web Site" Interestingly that webmaster was based in Sydney Australia. However, when the images were posted, they were not displayed in the order or manner in which I had envisaged. That is understandable as each webmaster has his own way of doing things. Two others, both Black Templar players and fellow moderators at the B+C helped out, sharing my images on teir web sites. Sadly, all three websites are no longer on the web and all three webmasters seem to have left the hobby for a long time.
As the limitations of depending on others became evident, I began to look for free websites to host my images. I decided on Homestead simply because it came with a web creator with a drag and drop facility. I knew no html or web skills at that time and that hasn't changed today, four years later.
So, in late 1999 I began making a few simpleweb pages of images and a few links. This site gradually expanded beyond the limit of the free web space so I ended up creating almost eight separate fee web sites each for a separate section of the site. Immature in the realms of intellectual property, i made liberal use of GW icons and in March 2001 launched the first version of the Fortress of the Unforgiven. The main feature of the site then was the Codex Unforgiven which i had writen due to the general dissatisfaction with the Codex dark Angels v 3.0. This was mostly due to a few oversights which unfortunately made a lot of players over look a large amount of good work that had gone in to that Codex. Ultimately most free web hosts began to limit the size of the pages and I made the decision to fund a single web site on my own. That was when I gained some experience in the use of Adobe Photoshop and began creating my own icons and banners.
September 2001 saw the arrival of version 2.0 of the Fortress site with its own icons, buttons and banners, proudly displaying the fantastic digital artwork of the Tower of Angels on its main page. This design endured until its third upgrade in 2005.
The year 2002 saw me move to Birmingham, England for two years along with the expansion of the web pages and the first Fortress mega competition which netted 13 submissions with complete Dark Angel armies and back grounds. It was also a memorable year as I managed to squeeze my wedding the middle of that year.
In 2003, the Inner Circle was formed by GW web designer Owen Rees, GW Reatiler and modeller par excellence Nathan Bishop and B+C dark Angel forum moderators ZeussS, Vet Sergeant Malyr, Brandon Beacom and myself to direct Dark Angel matters. This fitted with the onset of the Eye of Terror world wide campaign whre the Inner Circle created and successfully ran out own parallel "Gathering of Angels" campaign. I also managed to enrich my 40K experience with two UK Gamesdays at Birmingham. Apart from that this year was noted for an advance in my literary skills as I managed to create my best writings in the form of the "Apocrypha Caliban" which encompassed the entire Dark Angel history and "Codex Astartes Angelus Mortis" in which I codified the entrie chapter in great detail.
The year 2004 was again a big year with the arrival of my daughter in February, us moving back to Melbourne in March and myself staring work in my permanent job in April. The EOT campaign reviews hit the web around the same time as we reviewed out own experience with the GoA campaign. The "Gahering of Angels" narrative story which I wrote to keep abreast of our campaign was finally put on the website in its entirety. Despite that accomplishment the year was one of many ups and downs, particularly when the first Dark Angel FAQ was released along with the 40K v 4.0 rules. That was an all time low, as we lost the ability to field Deathwatch squads on which the Knights of the Order were based. I nearly shut down this web site and quit the hobby in its entirety. Happily with the support from friends and gamers and the subsequent release of Codex Space marines v 4.0 I regrouped. Out of that initial frustration was bornt eh will to do even better and I began the complete overhaul of the Fortress site page by page. My continueing inability to do html menat that i couldn't use frames on this web site as Homestead didn't support it as yet. However i went through the process, improving the banners and buttons, straemlining the chambers, removing dead wood and adding new and exciting stuff.
I am quite proud of my creation as I write this in the early part of the year 2005. The third version of this site has been released to the gaming public. Four years it has survived and seen many other sites vanish in to the ether. It now contains what I think is not just the largest collection of omplete dark Angels armies, but the largest such collection of Space Marine armies on the web. The fiction, and history sections are extensive. The tactica section needs updating to the fourth edition. Yet the parts that I feel most proud of are the minor subsections which are quite extensive and provide much needed flavour not easilt found in most gaming web sites. The Halls of Honour are the most detailed and extensive section I have yet seen in any site, giving credit to those who submitted content to the site. I am also quite proud of the web awards that i have managed to accumulate despite my ignorance in programming and web design. The most gratifying is that continued contributions of the fellow gamers and Dark Angel hobbyists, in particular those few tireless members of the Inner Circle.