Wednesday, 18 December 2019
It was a pleasure to sit in on the Dark Heresay last week and GM Alex's vision of the crushing life led by the dregs of humanity choking in the underworld factories of the great Hive Cities delivered a very authentic experience. Whilst we are on mission from the Inquisition there are, as always, politics in place alongside the truth and I sense there are corporate factions that have had a hand in our murder investigations. Nevertheless, whilst the Imperium's thirst for resources will determine how tolerant it is on a planetary basis it is of course the little man that ends up being pulped in the cogs of the Imperial Bureaucracy.
Despite our sacred duty, I couldn't help but feel the gulf of empathy between me and my character. Whilst on the trail of what appears to be a ritualistic murder, albeit a likely distraction, we had the unenviable task of interrogating the victim's partner. Confirming all the baseline facts, habits and last whereabouts of her husband, the sheer oppressiveness of leaning on a desperate widow and her now fatherless child clinging to a dilapidated one room bloc habitat was harrowing. Yet still the Emperors will prevails.
Whilst dehumanisation in Sci-fi realms cuts a little too close to the mark, we have all been warned. Somewhere in a role playing game the future has already happened.
Wednesday, 11 December 2019
It was a while ago I had the pleasure of diving into the Nameless Land game but at the time I did have the opportunity to stand in for Andras and his post apocalyptic pain priest. There is actually a sort of library of faith based archetypes where the collapse of civilisation is concerned. This is not surprising as armageddon aside one generaly speaking associates religion with poverty and a lack of resources - after all what use is a God when you already have everything you value ? Nevetheless there is always a great opportunity for character development and I am reminded of Denzel Washington's character from The book of Eli wandering the nuclear wastes beng the last curator of the Bible.
More in context there are the Priests from the film of the same name curating the devastated planet folowing a war between vampires and humans. The human cities are ruled by The Church but in the wastelands people fight for liberation against their theocracy. There are the Grammaton Clerics from Equilibrium who enforce the Big Brother opression across all of society but of course the danger of such highly trained and trusted clerical power means that any that turn aganst their masters can be devestating.
There is the aptly named priest "Shepherd Book" aboard Serenity as part of a wonderfully balanced group of characters bringing a moral and pacifist dimension to the Firefly series in the post reaver devestated universe and I am also reminded of the Long Walk of the retired Judges from the Dredd series who take the book of law and a gun out into the cursed lands when their time in Megacity is done. Arguably there are the devout from the post apocalyptic Matrix believing in The One and the constantly challenged priest from The Walking Dead. There are the Inquisitors from Warhammer and one can even go back as far as the War of the Worlds and poor broken Nathaniel whose faith becomes delusion and denial.
I've always got the impressoin that the cleric is the last character to be chosen in a D&D game just because it has a well trodden utility but there is a huge lineage and always an off beat option somewhere between fanatically devout to insane.
Tuesday, 3 December 2019
Scenariowise over the years I have generally preferred to roleplay the fantasy enviromnets which as I write strikes me as a little odd as I am a hard core science fiction fanatic at heart. Bar Tolkien the rest of the fantasy landscape seems derivative to me but I am also aware that this is a somewhat disparaging view where art is concerned as there are always avenues to express ideas, beauty and truth within any medium. But my Kindle would stress my former point as its laden with SciFi classics and completly void of anything with orcs in it. Void however does remain an interesting point.
There have been a significant number of classic sci fi authors who have transited into fantasy writing and there are more than a few RPG systems that combine both fantasy and scifi mechanics into the player experience but I have never felt it has worked very well really. More to the point, historically, one tends to discplace the other - where civilasation rises, science and critical thinking secularises culture. Where civilisation collapses people often only have their religion and superstitions to turn to and power structures quiclky rise based on ceremony and magic. The two facets of philosophy have always seemed mutually exclusive to me.
However talking to Jack last week regarding the Dark Heresy game, he was recounting a rather ugly fumble on his psych skills after which he detonated a void bomb damaging players and foes around him. As far as I can tell a psycher has to open and control aceess to the void in order then to focus its power with ethereal effects; though the system emphasises psychic skills over magical effects, I actually think its quite well done. Despite the void being the home of Demons it is also the medium of travel for starships so whilst this is a good example of a clash of genres it always offers the description of horrific and powerful entities living in a seperate part of the universe rather than expicity magical and supernatural realms inhabited with Gods. Conversely for the Imperium of Man, the Emperor is often revered as a God but his existence necessitates the use if technology so his rule always has a cultural context, not a divine one. Far be it for me to sound heretical but before the inquisition arrives for my latest mind wipe I'd just like to say I have made my peace with the Demons in this system.