Sunday, 18 August 2019

Thoughts on the Tao Te Ching

There's a lot I liked about this. Sadly, it’s easier for me to express my discontent than the things I agreed with. I will briefly talk about the things I liked, then go on about the things I hated, then do some questions I had, then probably cycle back to the positive.


THINGS I LIKED

I liked the opening lessons or statements and found the quality slowly dropped off, especially towards the end.

Reading these and thinking about them generally gave me a feeling of reflective calm, which is a rare resource for me. I liked the conception of lessons or statements leading or gesturing towards what cannot be described.
The 'finger pointing at the moon' stuff.

I liked the conception of the Tao as a kind of unmoved mover, beyond conceptions of space and time but encompassing both.

I like the lessons about indifference to virtue, or at least to the conception of performed or obvious virtue.
This cut quite close for me as the difficulty of the problem of 'good' and of doing good, when that desire is itself intermixed with a desire for reward, (even internal reward of self) and of a desire to be perceived as good, and with the social rewards of 'good conduct'. This seems a perennial human problem and of particular relevance today.




STUFF I HATED

I absolutely despised the MURDEROUS and shameful incuriosity of Taoism. The mind is meant to interact with the world, and a mind unchallenged by any interest in the outside reality sinks into a kind of perverse inner death which, I am sure, seems like wisdom; the mind can deal very well with its own products if it allows nothing else in. Such a mind might well seem self-comprehending and even, but there will be little there to be comprehended.
You certainly cannot drown in a swimming pool drained of water.

An absence of interest in reality, or in modern thinking, the conspiratorial belief in narcissistic shit like simulation theory, is a sin and a flaw. Reality challenges and educates us, that challenge introduces disorder and suffering, but through this we grow, and learn. Wisdom in the absence of curiosity is cheap fucking wisdom.

Don't be passionate as you will suffer and wear out, ok, fair enough. But if you are never passionate then how do you know anything about your own nature? What your limits are, what provokes you, what you can or cannot do, the substance of your being. Some of these things only come out or reveal themselves in situations of stress. This is another cheap form of wisdom. Know yourself easily by making sure there is not much to know.

The later stuff about immortality and the obsession with preserving, particularly your own, life, I regard as pathetic and worthless. But there is thankfully not too much of that here at this early stage.

A lot of this is just "how to survive under various tyrannies". Which, fair enough, might be reasonable and useful advice, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. The deep political quietism and massive retreat from 'difficult' issues is, maybe wise?  I don't know. It seems like it could be wise or fucking stupid depending a lot on context and circumstance. Especially in the later parts it seems to slip more deeply into conservative authoritarianism.
If this is the  *less* conservative and authoritarian version of Confucius then I don't think I am going to like Confucius much.

No Particular Advice About Anything - I'm not exactly looking for Dale Carnegie or plumbing advice here, but the totality of the message seems to be "become one with the Tao and either you will be able to solve this or it just won't bother you that much", which, again, fair enough might not be bad advice, but its very hard to tell if I'm being Barnumed here, and it would be a little useful to have a handful of slightly more concrete suggestions.

I think I've worn out my anger. On to;



QUESTIONS

Are you training Hermits or rulers here Lao Tzu? Because you appear a little confused on this point. Seems like the advertising claims to be training people to be hermits while the Facebook algorythms mainly show the ads to executive types.

Also - women.

Presumably someone somewhere has done something about what Feminist Taoism might look like, or what it might look like from a more-classically-female perspective, i.e. if you don't really necessarily want to go of and live as a 'sage' on a mountain, if you have quite a lot of complex interrelated social work to do and if you would actually like to retain some complex connections to the social world.

I have the same disagreement with this over the nature of 'nature', and moral laws which claim to link human moral good with 'natural law' as I do with most such philosophies.

Nature is exactly as vast, indifferent and infinite as described. Its also often naturally catastrophic, cold, inhuman, often governed by wild chance. There is no stable state of nature, only brief periods of relative meta-stability. Neither do I believe in any baseline original human culture (i.e. "when we were in the stone age" etc.)
Human existence is a river, and its narrowing and deepening as things go on, not widening. To return to the prehistoric past would be to return to any one of many and varied cognitive and social modes, not to a pure land where things made sense. There is no pure land. It’s a river, which Taoism should be able to grasp and understand, but if it did, then all the stuff about abandoning technology and going off to be simple wouldn't make much sense.
A microchip is exactly as much part of the Tao as a plough or a flint arrowhead. It cannot be otherwise.

I suspect humans can be alienated from their nature as Lao Tzu suggests, but this may be much more complex and partial a process and experience than can be solved by just going off to be hunter-gatherers.

'Human Nature' is very much up for grabs, to an almost disturbing extent.

Probably my biggest disagreement with Lao Tzu is that I don't think the Tao can create virtue on its own. The infinite has no interest in us. Our annihilation or our development is all the same to the Tao. So its fakery in a way, this stuff linking human goodness and virtue to the Infinite.




AND YET

Part of me *feels* as if some or much of this is true. Or perhaps should be true, or can be true. I did, and do feel a sense of calm and a slight relief from my crushing internal angst and stormy temperament when considering the Tao. I do feel as if contemplating the Tao *should* help turn you into the kind of person described, maybe more by Chuang Tzu than here, and kind of low-key, ultra-chill, very-calm, good person. That would please me.
It seems like it *can* be true, even if it is not *necessarily* true, and perhaps that is enough.

Still, like most religions, you are better off not finding out too much about Taoism. There are too many inconsistencies, too many assumptions about history and human nature that have been easily and totally overturned by the actual observation and interest in reality which Taoism seems deliberately-ignorant of, and like most faiths, waaaaay to many fiddly little bits of theology/philosophy that just don't make any fucking, (even basic, to-a-12-year-old) sense, and which when you try to get them all fitting together, produce reams and reams of blather, like a failed calculation resulting in infinite numbers.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

I Will Roll Deep


If you are in you better be in all the way. Thusly I have placed the Raven-People for Zoiterra, the Animal-People continent made up itself of nations on the backs on giant animals, on (and in) something which is not a giant animal, big instead a cosmically-huge coconut.

I am fully committed to this idea.

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Quick are the Qua, and black as ink, riders of the cosmic coconut, called Okoko, the virtue of which is Heroism. A hollow virtue for a hollow land.

Many Ptak, the Aviform bird-people, are seen as having a slightly twitchy, rolling movement, with moments of stillness unusual in other races. The Qua are Ptak, physically, if not culturally.

(Of course you should never refer to Qua as Ptak in Zoiterra, most bird people would take this as being deeply insulting. Culturally, socially and philosophically, they would be seen as entirely different beings, springing from a different land (the least of lands), and following a different virtue (the least of virtues).

But they are Bird-Men, and they exemplify those qualities; more jerky, more still, more rapid when they do move, with a particular glimmering intelligence in their frozen side-on glance. Beak half-open, the eye shining.

They have slender limbs and are light and agile in a way rare for Aviform beings. Unlike many, they are excellent climbers, their beaks are often employed as tertiary hands. They dance well, are not put off by long journeys on foot, deal happily with riding beast and even sail well.



BLACKNESS

The Qua are almost always deep, dark black. Their feathers glimmer like oil when close, like a sheen of opal across a pupil-black void. This, and their general lack of interest in status-markers, makes them quite hard for non-Qua to tell apart.

In the wild, bright forests of Okoko they look like silhouettes of cut-out black paper, dark shadows on a bright day.

In Ku, the city floating on the milk sea in the darkness of the Great Nut, they are like the openings of deep tunnels come to life, swimming in gems, black-on-white against the bioluminescence of the city floating above, rippling away into realms of hidden tides. Like smiling gateways to infinite nowhere.



INTELLIGENCE

The Qua are suspected to be the most intelligent of Ptak, and some of the smartest in Zoiterra, though you would not realise this from their wild, irregular and unwise conduct. They are famously good at puzzles and codes, and at languages in a way, though this is considered a form of mimicry rather than 'true' knowledge.

In Zoiterra the intelligence of the Qua is spoken of in a glib and degrading way. As if it were a trick, not true knowledge. Not true learning, not wisdom, not the knowledge of a sage, but a mere practical facility, and therefore, in a way, somehow worse than mere stupidity.

The perceived ability of the Qua only lowers them in the eyes of Zoiterran culture and, in particular, with the Ptak of Boe, who regard them with sadness, suspicion and agonised frustration.



QUA SERVITUDE

In many ways, Okoko is a professional client state. The Qua will effectively 'rent' out the resources of its surface (but not the interior), along with their own somewhat questionable services and assistance, to whomever is willing to push them along.

This might seem like a good deal. With a large, easily exploitable, (and largely willing) client state and its population any Zoiterran culture could significantly increase its own power and security relative to the rest.

However, though it often takes a while, the Qua always, ALWAYS, end up massively pissing off whichever state of group they serve, and Okoko is booted off to seek another patron.

For the period of their service, the Qua act as indentured servants, for the culture of whichever beast is currently pushing Okoko. They work the slash-and-burn cash-crop plantations in the valleys of Okoko, exporting almost everything to the dominant population. They also serve more directly as house servants, professional indentured labour and malmuke-like military formations.

Qua living on their current client beast are usually locked into recognisable social and legal orders, but those remnants or diaspora populations left behind on previous beasts often form a criminal underclass. (Or underground railroad, or revolutionary elite, depending on how you look at it.)

The remnant populations of Qua do sometimes find a place in society. (A controlled place.) Zoiterra is huge and highly diverse, there are many places for individuals to escape to, get lost in or build a life.


DIVINER CAO

A popular Qua figure in Zoiterran base culture is Diviner Cao and his Monkeyman Servant Biglift

Cao of Okoko is a famous detective-like character in popular fiction and a somewhat comedic figure. Brought in by stretched or harried authorities to deal with problems high or low, and often solving them in the most amusing and counterintuitive ways, both aided and frustrated by Biglift (catchphrase 'Me big lift') and his constant distractions by available food and wild female monkeymen. Cao's divinations often cast an ironic eye upon Zoiterran culture and hierarchies



HEROISM

The virtue of Okoko is Heroism.

This is regarded by all of Zoiterra as the lowest of virtues, most distant from the sublime and from the unnameable cosmic truth. A hollow virtue for a hollow land. Self-possessed, narcissistic, concerned with the things of this world, obsessed with changing things - pushing them out of their natural course and altering their inner nature. Frantic, mischief-causing, life-shortening. Woeful, very woeful.

To the rest of Zoiterra, the Qua are seen as conniving, scheming, interfering, carpetbagging, do-gooders. Causing trouble, doing crimes, ignoring the law, society, propriety and the Virtues. Freeing indentured workers, deposing rulers, breaking treaties, seeking treasure, stealing slaves, burning debt records and land leases, re-distributing cash and information. Never ceasing to stick their beaks in. Seemingly unable to go anywhere without interference in some local arrangement which has *nothing* to do with them. The exact opposite of what a virtuous or enlightened person would do. Put simply; Agents of CHAOS.

Of course the Qua have to lie about this, and sneak about. If they were obvious about what they were doing then they would be run out of wherever they were, (and they often are). So they play the subservient clients, pretending to be obedient, making themselves useful, irreplaceable really. But all the time they are just picking up information - thinking and planning in their little corvid brains. What else can you expect from these robbers?





OKOKO - THE COSMIC COCONUT

Okoko is alone amongst the other Nation Beasts of Zoiterra who, it is said, condensed from starlight and the shreds of unravelling worlds and came to follow the way, (but who, being heavenly, were in the act of following the way anyway).

Some tilted into existence like an image changing in a mirror, some flew from the stars, some treaded down gently from heaven, or burst up through the Waste-Pack from the Chaos Sea beneath, all guided by (or guiding?) the sages.

Okoko was not guided by the sages, and it’s hard to believe it came from heaven, though it certainly came from 'the sky'. Okoko just arrived, plummeting like a nutty meteor. And that is all it is, a giant nation-sized coconut. It is not a beast, it has no mind and, shamefully, cannot even move under its own power.
Okoko can survive the great race against Yggsrathaal only by being pushed or carried by other beasts.


NATURE ON OKOKO

Okoko is also unstable, round and unable to right itself, it rolls in the chaos sea. Sometimes it is pushed up onto the Waste-Pack and grinds, or even rolls across it. Sometimes it crashes through the Waste as if it were ice.

The surface of Okoko is a smashed paradise of tumbling brown mountains, ruined cities and a vibrant, multicoloured, quick-growing jungle popping with fast animals. Within this psychedelic hypnagogic wonderland the Qua slink and hop like crafty black shadows. 

It is an ecology accustomed to apocalypse, one that can move or re-grow with incredible speed, as its world literally rolls around it. Okoko has huge slash-and burn plantations wherever its is currently most-stable, these eat away at the jungle near still points and around the great gaps which give access to the interior.

It is also a land with many secrets, for in its long ages of near-stability, many beings have built upon Okoko or delved within its shell. Buildings on Okoko have deep foundations, even after being swept away in a distant age, after a roll, the structure can be recovered and built upon once again.



THE WAYS WITHIN

At various points around Okoko are gigantic tunnels into its Husk. Almost all of these are closed and blocked off, by the art of the Qua and the nature of Okoko, most of the time. In each age of the nut, a few are left open, carefully guarded by the Qua, and these provide passage to the World Within.

Beyond these lies the Quick of the Nut, a white fibrous layer several miles deep, and rumoured to be inhabited by tribes of blind monkeymen who eat their way through it, forming great labyrinths.

Beyond that is the Milk Sea and the darkness of the nut.

For Okoko is hollow, and in its black depths floats a sea of milk. While the shell of Okoko may spin and turn from age to age, scouring its surface, the level of the Milk Sea, swishing in the darkness, remains broadly flat, whatever happens outside.



KU

Here, upon the milk, the Qua built Ku.

Ku of the Quick, Ku-Within, Ku, city of Lamps. A black city on a white sea. A fleet of black ships, tied together, with streets of milk, like a Venice of white water like by huge floating bioluminescent jellyfish.

Some buildings are in the centre of huge rafts, or built into teak ships. None are very high as they might capsize when Okoko turns. Between these travel gondolas poled by Qua and guided by firefly lanterns. There are almost no naked fires, nearly all light being accomplished by various forms of chemiluminescence and bioluminescence. The city as a whole is lit by huge floating Man-O-War bioluminescent jellyfish which drift above its black timbers like huge balloons. These are grown and sustained by the Qua through their art, fed by the nutrients of the Milk Sea and drawn from its strange ecologies.

Here in Ku, the Qua have their noble houses, guilds, magical schools, libraries, nests, treasure houses, houses of cartography, trading houses, investigators alephs, headquarters for their labour and agricultural unions and the great Qua Bank of Secrets.



Monday, 12 August 2019

We Played Inquisitor - Game Two: Rise of the Meta-Coral!


My initial review of Inquisitor from several months ago here.

And the previous game in this sequence 'Hunt the Fat Priest' here.

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The conditions for this game were decided by the terrain Evan had already prepared and by the suggestion that the second game take place a year after the first.

Here you can see Evans beautiful chunk of wood that he spent an entire night messing about with;

There was actually incense drifting up through this during the game.

I will never understand what is wrong with my face.


As it turned out the year thing didn't end up having a huge impact, seems conditions in the Imperium Nihilus are so drek that even after a year of scavenging the only real improvement to anyone's equipment was that one of Rams characters brought a lasgun.

Since Evan kicked both our asses last time, and was on his own side of the table, he would be the 'villain' for this game while Ram and I both tried to stop whatever he was doing.

Things were also affected by our gradually increasing knowledge and understanding of the rules. Particularly what happens if you get shot at (Test for pinning, roll to hit, roll location, roll damage, deduct armour, check for system shock, check for knockback I think?, add damage to damage total and check to see if out of action, check to see if damage has moved you up another bracket on that location, roll on location damage tables and account cumulative effects, not all this down somewhere. Pretty simple really.)

.............................................................................................


Game Two: Rise of the Meta-Coral!

An year has passed on the world of Spen-5. The forces of Inquisitor Delbrück and the cult of the Imprisoned Moon agree to, if not exactly team up, then at least not deliberately fuck with each other as they both search the planet for Inquisitor Du Miir, Frater Gorgos and their horribly mutated new allies.

Unfortunately this is Imperium Nihilus, which means that the Wi-Fi is never on and Amazon won't deliver. The 'good guys' have to scrape by the old-fashioned way hunting out fragments of rumour and trace facts until they can finally put the pieces together.

Gorgos and Du Miir plan to wake the Meta-Coral!

What exactly this is, they are not sure, but it sounds bad. (It's probably a slow-developing heretical bio-experiment left over from the original settlers of the RiWeal nebulae).

Gorgos has gathered his freaky mutant flock for a gigantic sermon/sacrifice. Du Miir and the psychic mutated Astertes/Giant plan to combine their forces in some kind of sacrificial ritual which will bring this 'meta-coral' to some degree of active self-awareness.

BIO-HERESY! And not the low-key kind with the test-tubes, the Fucking Gigantic kind!

This is the future liberals want.
Tiny Inquisitors, fat priests and psychic giants teaming up to do weird rituals on living super-coral.


More of House Shens bonded troops guarded the doorknob alter, below. 

The ostensibly-allied factions adopt tactics typical of their background and training.  

Delbrück and his entourage use synthetic hormones to infiltrate the hideous congregation of Frater Gorgos, trying to get close enough to make a run at the meta-coral.





Meanwhile, the Cult of the Imprisoned Moon rock up with an old chimera-chassis tank packed with explosives, driven very slowly, by a blind man.

This low-res pict cap of the 'Jank' was all out servo-skulls could get.

This ends up being named the 'Jank'.

The Cult of the Imprisoned Moon leap from the 'Jank' and dash into action;


And are immediately knocked right the fuck down by Du Miirs graviton-gun equipped thrall.


And by hilariously bad rolling when attempting to scale the base of the Meta-Coral.

At least for now, it seems that everything depends on Inquisitor Delbrück..


Unfortunately, Delbrück takes a poison-coated needler round right away, causing him to hallucinate and to effectively attempt to take his own leg off with his power blade.



Onthu Prime responds to this with innovative courage.They try to rile up the animal/mutant Bio-Horror congregation, causing them to stampede, hopefully providing cover for an advance.




This arguably sort-of works and does at least occupy the Meta-Corals defenders for a little while.

Meanwhile, Apothecary Krax advances at speed upon his downed comrade. (We had worked out that if you sprint, then aim, then fire, you get more movement and better bonuses than simply running or walking and firing normally)


Due to the complexities of the initiative system, (and our initial failure to understand that aiming carries over between turns) Krax and the Zealot of Gorgos get into a three way mexican standoff, with the Zealot standing over Chapter Master, ready to finish him off, Krax with his pistol zeroed on the Zealot at point blank and the House Shen bannerman aiming in turn at Krax.


 Everyone opens up, leading to an absolute massacre.

The Bannerman survives, along with Chapter Master, but the violence of war must have brought the old degraded Astertes round, for he leaps up and smashes through the Bannermans defences, crushing his arm.
 

With much of the rest of the Meta-Corals protectors now occupied with Delbrück, the doorknob alter and the path to Gorgos is now un-guarded...



Meanwhile, Dione, the most useful member of Delbrück's team (and the only one to bring a long-ranged weapon) is desperately trying to pin down Frater Gorgos (we remembered the pinning rules).

Girl is still MvP tho

While the Fraters psychic giant attempts to blast her with its mind powers.

As well as that, Promott 404, Anthrodact coffin-bearer swings its Navigator fetus and directs its nascent warp-glare, slowly annihilating Diones cover, piece-by-piece.

Promott 404
There's a baby in that tube.
She was still probably the most useful of any of the 'good guy' teams, at least managing to pin Gorgos for a turn and slow down his ritual.

The situation for Delbrück has only worsened.


After being trampled by his 'cover' the Anthrodact 505 manage to frighten away the mutants, turning them on Onthu Prime.

Suffering from self-inflicted wounds, cut off from allies and surrounded by mutants, Al’Pharem 503, Anthrodact Chirurgeon advances upon the fallen Delbrück. His intention, to remove the Inquisitors brain!

But at least he isn't guarding the Meta-Coral at the same time, and the Great Primaris has recovered from Du Mirrs Graviton blast. As the giant attempts to break his mind, the stubby mutant lurches into action on his little legs.


It's tall vs small...



Will he manage to do anything useful?

Well, no. He does grab for the pistol of the downed bannerman but fails to seize it and is attacked by that now tri-limbed and bleeding homonculi.



Meanwhile, Delbrücks brain is successfully extracted by Al’Pharem 503!!!

Image redacted by the Inquisition
The 'Jank' has but one turn left before Gorgos completes his ritual. Though driven by a blind man, Arcturus has faith in the Emperor that his cause is just, and floors the pedal. (Making a risky roll).


He fails catastrophically.


The Jank overturns against a piece of living horn extruded by the Meta-Coral, and explodes. Doing terrible damage, but nowhere near enough to prevent its final ascension into a self-aware and deeply heretical life-form!


The Cult of the Imprisoned Moon and the retinue of Delbrück have failed pretty much absolutely. Du Miir, Frater Gorgos and House Shen have succeeded in awakening the Meta-Coral and its terrifying genetic secrets are now theirs to exploit. As well as that, they have Delbrück's brain....

In the Imperium Nihilus, a new horror has been born to trouble an already-riven Galaxy..

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Post-Credits Freeze-Frame Cast Group-Shot
Then we went for dinner.

Whoo boy Inquisitor is a complex game.

There was almost unanimous praise, or at least interest in, the initiative system. Which involves specifically naming each individual action you intend to complete in sequence, the rolling dice equal to your speed. Then for every 4+ on a D6 you complete one of your list of actions. It sounds mental but it seems to produce very 'real world' chunks of imagined behaviour.

We used the rationalised character sheets and a lot of the gaming methods I saw utilised by David Fincher, who Refereed the game I played in in Stockport, and without which I think it would have been impossible to manage. So thanks for that.

The fact that this is a game played almost exclusively by obsessed hobbyists and that you have to covert your own minis simply to play, means that in a way, the rules *get* to be capacious. The kinds of people who might deliberately exploit an unbalanced or unclear ruleset are going to be massively put off by all of the stuff you need to do to play this game. The enormous sunk cost and investment of skill level and time means almost that powergaming effectively can't exist in Inquisitor.

I genuinely can't tell if Inquisitor is a 'good' game or not. My initial review was that the system was labyrinthine to the point of madness, and it is. Most of us are averagely smart and we had Brendan and his galaxy brain to help out on the first match, but we still had to play long hours before we started getting a handle on many of the rules.

However, even in the wierd half-correct state we played it in, the game does actually work. It produces the 'world' of Inquisitor. A gloomy backstage to the Warhammer 40k mythos populated by oddities.

A lot of the knockdowns and embarrassing failures and tactical fuckups might seem ridiculous when you read about them here, but they are actually quite fun to play through, and despite the fact that Ram and I got totally nailed in both games it still felt like a worthwhile, and not depressing thing to so because the sense of particularity and incident was so high. There is a particular melding of the tactical and story elements in quite a granular way that produces powerful and interesting situations and dominant memories. I think someone remarked that a game of Inquisitor felt like the perfect setup to an RPG campaign, it does a little. I'm sure we are all wondering what Delbrück's crew are going to do now. Probably Ram will have to convert a new model, maybe advance Dione to Inquisitor, and Evan will have to make a brain-torture device model to show he has Delbrück's brain.

Judged purely as an RPG its insanely hyper-complex and simply doesn't have rules for a lot of the non-combat stuff you need to do. Judged purely as a game of tactics, well its still insanely complex and has loads of fluffy stuff and odd bits and doodads. It's almost the opposite of a "rational" game.

But as the strange thing it actually is, an extremely dense quasi RPG/Tactical/Kitbashed Art Performance game for hipsters to tell combat stories about characters though imagined space and time, it actually works perfectly. If you want to play a game of Inquisitor, there really is no better game than Inquisitor. Nothing else will do it quite as well.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

We Played Inquisitor - Game One: Hunt the Fat Priest

WHEN AND WHERE?


Beyond or within the Great Rift the forgotten Riweal Nebulae, fifth planet of the Spen system, its star a young main-sequence star occluded by unknown cosmic debris (Evans fancy lamp), in a dark abandoned corner of that worlds spaceport.

Some time in either the late 41st or early 42nd millennium, (adjusted for the vagaries of warp travel),

(Actually at on Evans extendable dining room table at his place in Toronto over the afternoon and evening of August the 9th 2019).

Also, thanks to Ram for taking notes and to everyone for providing pictures.


WHO?


Three groups of mysterious wierdos gather,

(In reality Ramanan SinvaranjanEvan Webber, Brendan S and myself, with assistance from K Yani)

Who are they?

Inquistor Maximus Delbrück, an Inquisitor of the Ordo Biologis, and his retinue;


Ramanan Sivaranjan’s retinue of Inquisitor Delbrück
  •  Inquistor Maximus Delbrück, Arch-Sequencior of the Ordo Biologus
  •  Onthu Prime, Seconded from the the Skitarii Dravidian
  •  Keira Knifely, Assassin
  •  Dione, Ex-Military
  •  Johan Pistolson, Assassin
  •  Herc 19-80,  Seconded from the the Skitarii Dravidian


From an arguably more-radical splinter of the Ordo Biologis comes Inquisitor Du Miir, allied with the forces of Navigator House Shen and their bonded troops of the Salmagundi Iuvenis Five-Five regiment.


Evans beautifully converted Investigatorii of House Shen 
  •  Inquisitor Du Miir, Statisticodicier of the Ordo Biologus + Gunthrall
  •  Tach, Seneschal of the Salmagundi Iuvenis Five-Five regiment, ex-guardsman   
  •  Bannerman Summa, also of the Salmagundi Iuvenis Five-Five (honorary) 
  •  Al’Pharem 503, Anthrodact Chirurgeon
  •  Protomott 404, Anthrodact Coffin-bearer

(Delbrück and House Shen either have (or will) encounter(d) each other before, or to be. The Rift itself having splintered the relevant chronology and scattered their mutually interacting causality paths.)  (Ram and Evan have played with these characters before and have yet to decide where these events are in their personal continuity.)

Added to this are a pack of outcast mutants claiming (ludicrously) to be time-travellers from the 51st millennia, where they are the final remaining Space Marines, who worship a psychic moon on the galactic rim which reflects the last light of the (long vanished) Astronomicon.

Patrick Stuart’s Cult of the Imprisoned Moon.

  •  Apothecary Krax
  •  Flailmeister
  •  The Great Primaris
  •  Chapter Master
  •  Codicier Horn
  •  Blind Arcturus


WHY?

Via garbled multiply-transmitted Astropathic messages and refugee-born rumours, stories have reached the Imperium of the emergence of Frater Gorgos, a radical Priest of the Eccliesiarchy. The Sermons of Gorgos strongly indicate that he has had access to pure and holy genetic knowledge related to the Adeptus Astartes.

Frater Gorgos, a man of many names.
(No-one could remember ihs actual name.)


Information of this nature should never have left the Imperial Palace, let alone Holy Terra. How Gorgos encountered it is a matter of supposition, but it seems undeniable that he has it now, and, deluded by his crazed heretical pseudo-faith, he intends to somehow make use of it.

Beyond the Rift, it might be entirely possible that he could do so, producing who-knows-what horrors.

Though the journey will be insanely difficult, the matter is vital enough for the Inquisition to dispatch Inquisitor Maximus Delbrück, Arch-Sequencior of the Ordo Biologus, to find Gorgos, recover whatever sacred genetic knowledge he has and to make sure no-one else make heretical use of it.

However, Radical factions within the Ordo Biologus have quite different ideas about the possible uses of the Fraters Genetic scripture. Inquisitor Du Miir, Statisticodicier of the Ordo Biologus, and an ally of Navigator House Shen, also secretly sets forth to recover Gorgos and his knowledge.

Unbeknownst to both groups, the twisted Gene Cult of the Imprisoned Moon, following either strange rumour trickling through the Imperiums underbelly, or fragments of alleged future-knowledge, decide they must find and stop Gorgos themselves.

Each group wants the Fat Priest, and his secrets, for themselves.


GAME ONE - GRAB THE FAT PRIEST


(Meta - So, Brendan S was refereeing and the initial gaming board was populated with the stuff Evan had stayed up the previous night preparing. The only person who had played Inquisitor before was me and that was once, with someone else performing the Ref function.

All our games were essentially learning games. Inquisitor is... granular. When I told people we should only have three models each in a three-person game, I'm not sure anyone believed me.

We started at about noon, ran two games with about six turns for the first game and four or five for the second.  We finished, I think about eight or nine pm, I would estimate it took us about half an hour a turn. A range of books, rules and cheat sheets were open all over the room and were passed back and forth between players and Brendan continually. We were absolutely missing many of the rules and gradually layered in more and more as we carried on, often via the "how does this work? Look it up" method.

Most of the rules to Inquisitor do actually work, and work pretty well. It's simply that there are so many  of them, and they all interrelate.)

It was noon at the margins of the Spen-5 spaceport..



Mega-Chickens, perhaps the product of Gogos's genetic craft, wait somnulent.
 (Evan had a lot of weird and really well painted and converted minis and we ended up adding them to the board to see what happened. Brendan ended up running them and deciding how they would interact if messed with.)



Frater Gorgos awaits, accompanied by guards;

(Ram had a bunch of extra minis, I think Brendan ran the Frater, the Golioths and the Canoness straight using the example stats given in the Inquisitor rulebook for different archetypes.)



Like every (both) game of Inquisitor I've played in before, things began with each group slowly creeping forwards towards their assumed goal, initially unaware of the exact presence or location of either of the other two, trying not to make their own presence obvious.


Evans bois came in from the north, Rams from the south west and mine from the south east.

Note that big turret, which will become relevant  in later turns.



None of us really had any grasp on the Awareness or stealth rules at this point. 
If we had, perhaps things might have gone differently. (Probably not though).


Rams Ordo Biologis entering from the south west.






Turns out that Gorgos was actually meeting with some of Evans artfully-converted mutants for some creepy exchange of genetic Info. I don't have many pictures of those dudes but Evan has one here.


This is from a little later in the game. The head-guy is called Breugal.

Anyway, if my playstyle is about anything, its about poor impulse control and fucking about with wierd animals. On noticing the sleeping Ultra-Chickens in a nearby cargo container, Apothecary Krax decides to fuck with them 'as a distraction'.



This goes immediately and horribly wrong and the chickens charge directly forwards into the Chapter Master..


But don't manage to damage him....

And now Gorgos, and everyone else on the board, know we are here.

This sets the tone for my corner of the board, embarrassing failure and an whacky-races atmosphere. But don't worry, everyone else is still at least trying to play the game 'properly'.



Rams Ordo Biologus also advance carefully. A bit too carefully as his assasin Kiera Knifely ends up separated from the rest and gets into a relentless duel with Gorgos's enforcer/cannoness bodyguard..



Delbrüc advances with discretion while his assassin and the Fraters bodyguards trade shots, thrown knives and blows.





Kieras duel with the Enforcer takes up most of the rest of the game. 

Our girl only gets knocked down initially, after that she gets back up and kicks some ass, gradually whittling down the enforcers sword with her power blades (we didn't know that power weapons almost always just annihilate 'normal weapons)










Meanwhile, Evans House Shen are playing like grownups..



While the Priests bodyguards are occupied with the Moon Cult and Inquisition, they sneak up behind his unguarded rear..


And in a flurry of blows, smack him right in the head! (and groin, both specific locations with specific damage charts)



Gorgos is down! His bodyguards are on the back foot. All Shen need to do now is drag his ass out of there.

Not only that, but in investigating a strange lifeform hidden beneath a tarp (provided by K Yani)


Inquisitor Du Miir firstly traps it by ordering his gunthrall to apply the effects of its graviton gun to the tarp. And then uses his scanner to discover that this creature registers as an Astartes...!


Meanwhile, the Moon Cult are trying to deal with one of Gogos's bodyguards..


They are not doing that badly, but unfortunately Breugal, the criminal mutant, has some kind of signalling thing which he tosses into the melee between the bodyguard and Moon Cult.

Causing this stations defence cannon to rotate and focus on the growing melee.


Apothecary Krax works out something is up and tries to grab the signaller to throw it away.

But Inquisitors quite elegant initiative rules mean he fucks that up, and the lascannon fires on the signaller, apparently scything through the legs of all three in combat.


Delbrüc gets tired watching his acolyte fail to take out this bodyguard and decides to unleash an goddamn PSYCHIC FIRESTORM.





However, its way too late for the Biologus and Moon Cult. While everyone else has been dicking about, Inquisitor Du Miir has both negotiated with, and now released the creature from beneath the tarp, this mutated astartes of some kind, is a motherfucking psychic giant.


Its turn six, Evan has the Priest and the psychic giant. No-one else is even close and Brendan has to go, its mutually decided that House Shen have won this game.

Inquisitor Du Miir, House Shen, Frater Gorgos and the psychic giant retreat, leaving the Moon Cultists and Ordo Biologis in the dust.

What are Gorgos,  House Shen and Inquisitor Du Miir planning? And will the Cult of the Imprisoned Moon and  Inquisitor Delbrüc be able to do anything about it? Wait to find out in...

Game Two
Rise of the Meta-Coral