Thursday, 28 September 2017

Gotterdammerung


The city of Götterdämmerung in the Realm of Ulgu has more than its share of dangers. Those who live out their lives within its walls enjoy more security than those without, providing they know how to ward their homes against the dead and daemonic, stay out of certain neighborhoods, and are careful not to anger the alchemist who lives next door. Of course, every day pallid bards spin tales about those unfortunates who made that one mistake every living thing is supposed to be allowed and wound up on a slab in the city morgue. If they are lucky, the coroner won’t turn out to be a closet necromancer who’d have them shambling around, preying on the living, until the city watchmen get around to brutally putting them to rest once and for all. If they are unlucky, their relatives saved a few coins by slapping them in the ground at a poorly guarded cemetery, where they’d stay until a resurrectionist dug them up for parts or auction the body to the highest (and often the most unsavoury) bidder….and this was all before the coming of the braying hordes of the ruinous powers.



Within a day, everything changed. It started with long-hidden cults, worshipping both the long-forgotten gods of Order and Chaos, tearing at each other in the streets of the city. Next thing you knew, you couldn’t throw a dead cultist without hitting a minor civil war in progress. But it wasn’t a war for territory — no, this was a fight for the very souls of the populous. Before long, the howling armies of Chaos were battering against the city walls. That wasn’t the worst of it. Mortals didn’t fight this war alone. Dark things that legends spoke of only in hushed whispers could be seen from the battlements, a soldier might find his comrade suddenly possessed whilst in combat and aberrant creatures of pure nightmare ambulated over the hills on a multitude of twisted limbs. The ruling guilds, fearing the worst, fled through the realmgate in the centre of the city before it fell silent, leaving the rest of Gotterdammerung to their fates and without leadership.



As swiftly as it began, it was over. There was no winner and it is likely the battle simply moved on to another field, somewhere else, but given that one moment the siege raged on all around them and then the enemy seemingly disappeared the next, the populous were given to believe the (now popular) myth that the shadows of Ulgu simply devoured them. Whilst some of the city lay in ruins, Gotterdammerung had largely weathered the ferocious storm but was forever changed. Those non-mortal entities who survived faded into the shadowed alleyways of the city, maybe waiting for the day when the ruinous powers were in ascendant again. With the loss of the ruling guilds, the remaining senior officers gathered an ad hoc martial council, imposing strict curfews and began the laborious task of rebuilding the shattered quarters of the city.



The biggest change was in the shadow-wolds beyond the city walls. The flora and fauna that had always thrived there increased in number during the war and with the corrupting influence of the chaotic hordes became something altogether more dangerous. With the standing militia of Gotterdammerung refusing to leave the city walls to keep them in check anymore, those who do venture out of the city — by choice or misfortune — face the perils at their own risk. Even before the coming of Chaos, navigable roads were few and far between as much of the shadow-wolds could not be charted due to the constantly shifting landscape. It doesn’t help either that the wilderness beyond the city walls (as does Gotterdammerung itself) exists in a perpetual twilight, choked by thick fog which appears to be more shadow than mist. More than a few travellers have found themselves arriving at their destinations far sooner than they’d planned, having wandered through an umbral-cantrip, or never arriving at all, doomed to an eternity of wandering adrift upon unfamiliar tracts. All that most of the populous can hope is to hide in the relative safety of the city and hope its fortifications are strong enough to keep the creatures out. As the years rolled on, some people liked to pretend that the unnatural, the cursed, and the damned don’t really exist. That they were exaggerations of history or the products of hysteria. But the truth is that things other than human have always been a part of Gotterdammerung, only more visible at certain times than others.



Gotterdammerung is now more isolated than before and the populous are forced to become self-sufficient or starve. Massive allotments were tilled around the city on the grounds of buildings that were razed during the war. Similarly, gargantuan abattoirs were constructed to both breed and slaughter livestock. Anyone caught poaching or tampering with either of these receives an automatic sentence of death.



However, after centuries of interminable silence, the city’s realmgate suddenly reactivated and from it strode forth giants in shining armour haloed in a blue-white light. They weren’t welcomed with awe but rather deep suspicion and the Martial Court of Gotterdammerung were largely disinterested in a return to the worship of Sigmar (indeed, even today, Stormcast are a rare sight on the streets of Gotterdammerung). The traders that followed were perhaps more accepted if not, at least, appreciated and these days Gotterdammerung relies heavily on the trade that comes through the realmgate. Indeed, such is the greed of the city now after so long under the sufferance of relative poverty that rarely is anyone turned away; all are neither welcome nor unwelcome in Gotterdammerung, regardless of their racial characteristics or backgrounds (real or falsified), but all are carefully surveilled by the city watchmen and the paranoid inhabitants.



Today, Gotterdammerung’s inhabitants can be divided into three broad categories: those who can pass for human, those who can’t, and those of the shadow-wolds beyond the city wall. The first broadly covers aelves, duardin and anything else that looks near-Human (or can make itself look that way). Even soulblight vampires and necromancers (often fleeing from the despotic regime of Nagash in Shyish to the only other realm they can survive permanently in). These find it easiest to coexist with humans in the city, can move about with a degree of freedom and, in some places, have gained a measure of acceptance. This won’t save them from being hunted down by the city watch (or the dreaded Judexi of Sigmar) though, if enough deaths are traced to their door or they flagrantly break any one of Gotterdammerung’s many (and sometimes bizarre) laws.



The second group are those who, usually because of how they look, stand out in a crowd. Prejudice and fear (most of it justified) keeps them in the shadows - should they care. While some aren’t completely inhuman, such as Orruks (and other Greenskins), Sylvaneth and Ogors, they’re often considered to be entirely uncivilised and prone to unpredictable behaviour which makes them dangerous neighbours. Their natures make them often appear utterly outlandish to the normally distrusting residents (although most cannot tell the differences between a Dryad and a Daemon) and have come to be regarded in most districts of Gotterdammerung as undesirables. Perhaps the most dangerous are those grotesque creatures that have either never been mortal or are simply too freakish to be believed to exist (who hasn’t heard the lunatic tales of rats the size of men?), that skulk and stalk in the darkest corners of the city.



Despite the efforts of the city watch it is rarely peaceful on darkened streets of the city, and any sense of security is tenable at best. Cults of all kinds are on the rise again, doomsayers cry of grim omens, the lunatic and demented grow in number daily, the dead rarely remain where they’re left, skirmishes and riots breakout on regular occasions and denizens who have long survived in the shadows are drawn out by the smell of spilt blood. The Martial Court try to keep the lid on as the body count goes up but now, more than ever, those who can handle a blade or bow, incant protective wards, sling fireballs from thin air or simply pound an enemy into gristle with their bare hands are in demand. The Martial Court, city watch, and innumerable businesses are all hiring skilled freelancers to take on jobs that need doing. For somebody who knows their way around a fight or a grimoire, the only thing easier to find than employment these days is a quick death….

But as the common proverb in Gotterdammerung goes; the shadows consume all without distinction.











For those of you who have been playing pen and paper RPG's for a while may notice that some of my inspiration for Gotterdammerung has come from a very old RPG done by West End Games called Bloodshadows. I didn't want to make a carbon copy of Mordheim, but rather something equally bleak yet with a little more frenzied life in it.

Recently, whilst browsing through my local charity bookshop, I found a simply delicious artbook for a 2015 Playstation game called Bloodborne (at a very cheap price) which instantly got the imagination ablaze. The pictures I've included here are ones I've managed to find from the internet, but I do urge you to look for the book yourself; its full of rich concept work - perfectly fertile ground for conversions.


Gotterdammerung is pretty much still in draft right now, but please let me know what you think.
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Friday, 11 August 2017

Mor Deythan


Upon blackened pinions
silence takes flight
unkindness

sombre be their disposition
taciturn
disdainful

Lightless eyes of ink
ever watchful
ever patient

Carrion stink
the only betrayal
too late

Darkness shifts and strikes
melancholic
swift

Bleak be that beak
that tears
whet with retribution

Talons flash
in shadows
they rip out the heart

Desolate wake, inconsolable
corpses and black blood
in moonlight

Carrion stink
on the wind
the only thing left behind




 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Grime Lights - A Prequel

Some time ago (this time last year as it happens), I titillated audiences with a tiny teasing of world building.....

Well, okay, I faffed about with some background ideas (see: Ordo Nemuritorus) that never truly came to fruition and no one really noticed....

Since then I made up this little warband of 'less martial' figures who then sat on the top of my bureau to gather dust and cobwebs (literally), whilst I worked on other projects (my Elven Exiles are growing apace).


I've always been meaning to properly build up the world of Pūrvachāti much in the same way as I did with Lychgate last year. In fact, the roots of Pūrvachāti started out quite a few years ago, beginning with my love of the ancient ruins of India and Thailand and their contrast with the more contemporary structures seen in the countries' today.

Originally, I intended to paint these guys in very subdued colours in a similar palette to the Dutch Masters. However, now I'm more leaning towards something more impressionistic, something of a grubby riot of colours.

Anyway, until then....



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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Ode to Guilliman

So, I've been reconnecting with some albums that I haven't listened to in while and one of them is rather a favourite of mine. A collaboration by some of the most prominent synthpop/futurepop artists in the circuit currently who called themselves 'Bruderschaft' (Brotherhood) under the direction of Rexx Arkana. It was originally conceived as a charity project for cancer research in the wake of Arkana's father's death after battling the disease.

In 2013, they released a second album (Return) along with a remix of their pinnacle track 'Forever' (in what I believe is a definitive edition - but with Tom Shear spearheading the lyrics, I am grossly biased). It is the lyrics that I feel have a rather eerie message within the 40k universe, especially with the birth of this new Dark Imperium.


But I shall let you judge. 

I don't believe in the existence
Of mercy's guiding hand
Not with all that I have witnessed
I cannot understand
Forever burdened with the knowledge
That I could have been so much more
When the truth is hard to suffer
I knew this all before

There is no comfort in faith
The Heavens still will fall
A thousand towers rise before me
And I cannot climb them all
There is no kind of joy in this
There is no time that it can heal
When emptiness and shadows bliss
There is nothing left to feel

I have not abandoned hope
Though I know there's nothing more
Tired and alone
You forget what you have hoped for


I will walk this ground forever
And stand guard against your name
I will give all that I can offer
I will shoulder all the blame
I am sentry to you now
All your hopes and all your dreams
I will hold you to the light
That's what forever means

I was never what you wanted
I could never, never please
I swallowed all our sorrow
In the midst of my disease
All my fortunes, all my gains
All the battles I have won
Now collapsing like the rain
I stand alone your only son

Take solace in these words
Take notice of this place
Hollow whispers that they are
Like the wind upon my face
Sing softly in my ear
And look at me with wonder
I will try to ease your fear
As the darkness pulls you under

I will walk this ground forever
And stand guard against your name
I will give all that I can offer
I will shoulder all the blame
I am sentry to you now
All your hopes and all your dreams
I will hold you to the light
That's what forever means


The track can be heard here:


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Thursday, 15 June 2017

Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale

Hi, I'm Gretchin and I'm a Sword Art Online-aholic.

Actually, anyone that knows me will tell you that I am very fond of anime, but SAO is very much a favourite. It's not the best anime by a long stretch and many of its critics will cite that it's commercialised tripe, that it's a very prosaic concept, that Reki Kawahara's other work (Accel World) is better, that Log Horizon is better, but I love it. I even have my own steel-replica Elucidator, collect the light novels and my Elven Exiles are all based on SAO characters (as they appear in ALO).

Yeah, I know, I need help.


I mean it does have its faults: it's criticised as being sexist, that the characters display unrealistic psychology, that the dynamic between the characters is stilted and that it sometimes trivialises the situation the characters are in with mundanities. Personally, I found it an emotional rollercoaster that had me crying quite a few times (the end of the Mothers Rosario arc had me in pieces).

Anyway, you can guess how excited I am to see the new film Ordinal Scale which is due for general release in the UK and USA on June 29th. Until then, the trailer will have to suffice.



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Friday, 26 May 2017

Ennui and on Matters Alien

So, lately I've been doing nothing. Well, maybe not 'nothing', but aside from listlessly pottering about on some commissions and slowly working on two miniatures for the Oldhammer Legacy project, I really haven't had the inspiration or motivation to engage in the hobby. The recent inclemently humid weather hasn't helped either.

(This is the point where my diatribe rambles off on tangents that will come together in the end)


I love telling stories. When I was first introduced to the worlds of the 40K universe, I held a particular love for the little fiction-bites you would find in the rulebooks and codices of the 2nd Ed era (especially the very funny short in the Ork Codex when they try to use a weirdboy to psychically probe an Imperial Titan). Yet perhaps it was the tiny panel-short in White Dwarf 195 in their Legion of the Damned article that really sparked off my imagination.


When I entered secondary school, I was lucky enough to find a very old and seldom used computer set-up in a dusty corner of the library that had since been supplanted by a shiny new bank of Windows 95 PCs. It had a black-and-green monochrome interface and a very basic word processor program. I spent many a breaktime on that computer, typing out little bits of fiction (whatever ideas came into my head) and letting my creativity run riot. I remember these were absolutely terrible and prosaic, but they were my first steps.


Four years later, when I moved out of my parents house and into my first bedsit, I was kindly donated a long obsolete Windows 3.2 PC set-up and spent many an evening with the television quietly muttering in the background, tapping out short story after short story (sadly all lost now).


I was first introduced to the shadowy organisation of the Inquisition in Ian Watson's Inquisition War trilogy (Boxtree edition) and in the very hot month of May in 2001, I was one of the first to pick up my copy of Inquisitor (the book and figures pack - the one that came with Covenant and Preacher Yosef)... since then I've created so many Inquisitors, belonging to many different Ordos and adhering to many different philosophies... but never one belonging to the Ordo Xenos.


I can't really lay my finger onto why this might be, but if pushed, I'd have to say that I find the Ordo Xenos less interesting than their adversaries. Sure, they can use xenos weaponry, but they're less hazardous or damning than daemon weapons and their characters just seemed less 'complicated' than their Malleus and Hereticus colleagues. Heck, even Eisenhorn and Ravenor, despite belonging to the Ordo Xenos, didn't seem to do much alien hunting in their stories.


When Shadow Wars: Armageddon was announced, the knee-jerk cynic in me instantly came to the conclusion that GW had been lazy in rereleasing (essentially) Necromunda but without producing any new models. However, that voice was swiftly silenced as I came to the realisation that GW had actually released a skirmish game that anyone with a 40k army already could join in with.


Since then, I've seen some very funky warbands being built, especially those made by Oldhammerers using RT era miniatures. I've also been reintroducing myself to the Alien universe in preparation for the new film, so when GW released PDFs for the other 40k factions, naturally I drafted up a tyranids warband (just waiting on miniatures). I also glanced at the Inquisition PDF too (which I believe was published later) and pretty much dismissed it because it focused solely on the Ordo Xenos, but it bubbled away regardless in the back of my mind.


Almost a decade ago now, I and a friend on the Conclave (back when the board was still black-and-green monochrome) concocted a grand IC xenos conspiracy story that sadly never came to fruition as it became a little too convoluted and we both had very busy real lives. Anyway, in this grand conspiracy, my characters were operating as the antagonists, but a few days ago, it got me thinking about what it would be like to be on the other side of that curtain and the first seeds of a protagonist were planted....


So what has this got to do with anything at all? In a round about way, I guess it means I'm currently designing my first Ordo Xenos inquisitor. I'm downscaling the original conspiracy to something less complicated (seriously, you'd have to a mind like Alpharius to join the dots of the original), working on character background and finding a suitable miniature....


Watch this space!



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