Monday, February 29, 2016

White Naga

In the novel Angel Exterminatus by Graham McNeil, Fulgrim attains apotheosis and becomes a four-armed, serpentine Daemon Prince of Slaanesh.  The serpent is a very ancient motif, laden with powerful symbolism.

1. Fertility

Serpents are obvious phallic symbols, ostensibly resembling elongated sexual organs.  While Slaanesh is not solely erotic in nature, he is the prince of excess and pleasure.  The Laeren were serpentine beings devoted to his worship, and their temple fully embodied this aspect.

2. Water

The form of a serpent resembles a river.  Water was very important in agricultural societies, and is therefore also synonymous with fertility.  Water deities often take the forms of snakes.

3. Rebirth and healing

A serpent is able to cast off its skin and emerge anew.  This has led many cultures to hypothesize that snakes are immortal and can be reborn.  In Greek myth, the demigod Asclepius learned the secrets of medicine after watching snakes.  In Mesopotamian mythology, Gilgamesh obtains a herb that will grant him eternal life, but a snake steals and eats it.  Fulgrim himself of course undergoes a transformative process when he ascends to daemonhood.

4. Guardianship

Serpents are represented as potent guardians of temples and other sacred spaces. This connection may be grounded in the observation that when threatened, some snakes frequently hold and defend their ground, first resorting to threatening display and then fighting, rather than retreat. Thus, they are natural guardians of treasures or sacred sites which cannot easily be moved out of harm's way.  

Hindu imagery commonly involved cobras sheltering deities under their hoods.  The naga is considered a mighty nature spirit with the partial body of a human and the tail of a snake. 

5. Danger and Poison

Serpents are predators, and even small snakes are potentially dangerous if armed with venom.  This connection depends in part on the experience that venomous snakes often deliver deadly defensive bites without giving prior notice or warning to their unwitting victims. The worship of the feathered serpent was wide spread among the Aztecs as Quetazlcoatl, a fearsome deity for a warlike people.  

6. Power

Reptiles have long stirred deep feelings of fear and awe in humans.  In East Asia, dragons are particularly serpent like.  Some scientists have conjectured that mammals have been hard wired since the time of the dinosaurs to fear reptiles, and this may be why stories of dragons, though mythical, are near universal.

7. Deceit

The serpent does not walk on feet like a normal animal.  Nor does it travel in a straight line.  Instead it slithers from side to side in a circuitous manner in a deceptive manner.  In the Garden of Eden, it was a serpent that spoke honeyed words to Eve and tricked her into eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

8. Disorder

Jormungandr, the great world serpent, surrounds Midgard in Norse myths and awaits its destruction.  The Ouroboros represents the primal state, and the formless disorder that surrounds order and is involved in periodic renewal.  The Egyptian deity Apep sought to swallow the sun, causing eclipses.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Horus Heresy Talisman

I was there the day Horus killed the Emperor. . .

I beat Horus Heresy Talisman tonight.  For anyone who is not familiar with the game, Talisman started out as a fantasy themed adventure board game that came out in 1983.  Fantasy Flight games made a Warhammer 40K version of the game called Relic about two or three years ago.  Then last week, a computerized version of Talisman was released on Steam, set in the Warhammer 30K universe.

30K Talisman is a reasonable amount of fun.  You start out with a Warlord, such as a primarch or other notable character.  By rolling dice, you move around the squares of the board, encountering potential friends, foes and curiosities.   As you defeat enemies and gain equipment, your character's stats improve, just like a role playing game.  Once you are strong enough, you will take a quest to achieve a challenging goal.  If successful you will be granted a Talisman, which will allow you to face the Emperor on Terra with Horus in a duel to the death.  

Once victorious, you will plunge the galaxy into chaos and darkness and cast down the false emperor from his golden throne.

Overall, a pretty good game despite some limitations.  The gameplay mechanics, while simple, can be a little mystifying at times.  It's also not quite as imaginative an experience as Relic is.  It's a little disappointing that only a certain number of warlords are included with the game, with additional characters available through DLC.  Moreover the game is too long for a single sitting and can drag on a bit if you are playing versus AI.  

Nevertheless, it remains a nicely packaged way to get the essence of a Horus Heresy RPG experience in a neatly arranged experience.  And you get to kill the Emperor! 

Friday, February 19, 2016

What does a bolt round look like when shot?

The Boltgun is the standard weapon of the Adeptus Astartes. A .75 caliber weapon, the Boltgun fires a self-propelled explosive 'bolt' which explodes with devastating effect once it has penetrated its target, effectively blowing it apart from the inside.

A .75 caliber weapon is the equivalent of approximately 20 mm metric.  This is what a 20 mm cannon round looks like when shot at a car engine:

This video shows why no one except a space marine should fire a bolter from their hand.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Top Five 40K Audios

Here are my top five Warhammer 40K audios!

1.  The Long Night

The Dark Angels and the Night Lords fought one another to a bloody stalemate during the Thramas Crusade and, though the Lion eventually claimed victory, it left both Legions scattered and under-strength. Jago Sevatarion, First Captain of the Night Lords, languishes in a gaol cell in the heart of Ultramar. Far from a spent force, the Night Lords must consider where their loyalties lie, and what path they will take in the days and months to come.

2.  Klaw of Mork

The Red Waaagh! has fallen on Alaric Prime and the mekboys are working on Big Mek Mogrok’s cunning and brutal plan – to pull a comet from space with the massive and dangerous ‘Klaw of Mork’ and bring it down on the heads of the world’s human defenders.

3.  Iron Devil

Taking refuge from deadly desert storms, the Imperial Guardsmen of the Cadian 267th find themselves in even more danger as they face the might of an ork Morkanaut.

4. Trials of Azrael

As war rages in the Pandorax system, the Imperial battleship Revenge comes under attack by the dread forces of Chaos. As warriors of the Black Legion rampage through the venerable craft, Supreme Grand Master Azrael leads the First Company of the Dark Angels - the elite Deathwing – onto the vessel to eliminate the enemy. Separated from his men, Azrael finds himself trapped in the lower decks with only a tech-priest for company and one of the galaxy's most fearsome warriors hunting him: the infamous Khârn the Betrayer.

5. Helion Rain

The world of Idos is plagued by ravening tyranids. Into this maelstrom come the Raven Guard 4th Company, the warzone perfectly suited to their lightning-strike methods of combat.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Warhammer and Anime

Last night I was watching an anime called the Heroic Legend of Arslan, a story based on a Persian epic called Amir Arsalan.  One of the characters, Narsus, has certain superficial similarities to Fulgrim prior to his corruption.  Narsus is a master strategist and warrior.  He also considers himself an artist first and foremost, even though his paintings are terrible.

 This made me think a little about the relationship between Warhammer 40K and anime.  On their face the two genres should have very little to do with each other.

Warhammer is characterized by its heavy, gothic, grimdark mood and nihilistic outlook towards the future.  Everywhere in the 40K universe, people are being corrupted by demonic possession, exterminated by Xenos, or oppressed by tyrants.  There is very little that is beautiful or joyful in this reality.

Anime is a much broader genre that Warhammer, given that it is the product of an entire culture instead of a single company.  Anime can be dark and brooding as well, but it is still radically different than 40K.  I think that at its heart, anime is a type of animation which is willing to forego realism to express a story in a primarily stylistic, artistically exaggerated manner.  It presents a reality in which characters are impossibly cute, can jump impossibly high, and can swing a weapon impossibly fast.  This art style presents to its audience a reality of extremes, which in turn evokes a powerful emotional response.

So both 40K and anime are similar after all in that they deal with extremes.  Extreme grimdark and extreme artistic presentation.  It is perhaps not surprising therefore that although at their bases are so different, many people seek to cross pollinate between the two.

Personally I think that this is a good thing.  By blending two genres and taking the best of each, one can provide an even more fertile possibilities for creativity and imagination.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Rules Changes

Apparently the following changes will be made to the Emperor's Children in the revised Isstvan Campaign Red Book:
  • All models with the Legiones Astartes rule gain +1 initiative on the charge
  • Sonic shriekers are now -1 WS to enemy models in base contact which aren’t immune to fear. Affects the full length of the combat (not just first round), not just if you charge.
  • Phoenix Terminators are WS 5
  • Kakophanii weapons are Heavy 2, previously Heavy 1

Best budz?

I'll just leave this here. . . 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Spotlight on Chemos

Chemos was once the homeworld of the Emperor's Children legion.  Located corewards in the Segmentum Ultima, the planet was first colonized prior to the Age of Strife as a mining world. Once the warp storms of that catastrophe cut Chemos off from interstellar trade, the planet settled into decay.  Warmed by two small, distant suns and surrounded by a nebular dust cloud, it experienced neither day nor night, only a perpetual grey twilight in which the stars never shone.

However once Fulgrim arrived, he transformed the planet.  Terraforming technology was reinvented, allowing forests, oceans, plains and rainforests to spread from the reclaimed outposts and bring life to the planet.  As beautiful forests were planted on ground once mined for metals, the skies became blue again and wondrous cities of glass, gold, crystal and steel rose to new heights of glory, Fulgrim's presence drove a resurgence of craft, art and intellectual refinement.

After the Horus Heresy, all life on Chemos was destroyed by Imperial forces and its location is unknown.  It may have been located in the area of the Khymaran Drift, close to the Maelstrom, but it is impossible to be certain.

Where is Chemos located in real life astronomy?

In real life astronomy, scientists also divide up the galaxy into four quadrants.  The fourth galactic quadrant corresponds partially with the Segmentum Ultima.  The 4th galactic quadrant is mostly only visible from the southern hemisphere.

Chemos might be located at approximately 330 degrees and about 17,500 light years from Terra.  The basis for this assumption is eyeballing that Chemos is located relatively close to the galactic core at 0 degrees.  In addition, the galactic core is located approximately 25,000 light years from Terra, so one can guess based upon the Horus Heresy map that Chemos would be relatively closer.

Real life astronomy indicates that the constellation of Sagittarius is located at approximately 0 degrees. The constellation of Vela (Argo) is located at about 270 degrees.

Chemos is located closer to the galactic core than 270 degrees, so presumably it should be closer to Sagittarius than Vela.  At approximately the right spot between the two is the constellation of Pavo, the peacock.  Moreover the closest star in Pavo is 12.57K light years away from Terra, meaning that another star in the constellation could potentially be 17.5K away.  So we can pretend that Chemos is located where Pavo sits in the Terran night sky.

There are of course a number of major flaws with my methodology.  First of all, stars are constantly moving.  The constellations in the year 2K are certain to be different in the year 30K.  Secondly, constellations are a matter of perspective from the vantage point of Terra.  A constellation can be made up of a number of stars which are in reality quite far from one another in distance.  Third, eyeballing the distances can hardly pretend to be an exact science, and is highly inaccurate.

Nevertheless, it is an interesting fantasy to imagine that Chemos could have been located in a constellation of a peacock.