Saturday, 10 July 2021

The Maker in the Game

Games Workshop, a company that designs little men, has a curious habit of placing the diegetic in-world designers of those little men, in the world in the world they are designing.

Don't know who did this but good work!
A lot of the imaginary soldier-boys were deliberately created by individuals in the imaginary world, and a lot of those individuals actually have miniatures themselves....
Let us look through a few

Belisarius Cawl and the Primaris Space Marines

10,000 years to make a slightly bigger marine! Well here you go, and they were all designed by one dude, and here is that dude, so now you can role-play them hanging out together on the tabletop...
Godhood - no
Creator on the Tabletop - yes
Creation on the Tabletop - yes
Method - SCIENCE! (upgraded mortals)

Nagash and the Dead Bois.

Vampires - immortality experiment/spiritual weapon gotten (possibly) lightly out o control.
Ghouls - the same weapon now mutated and even more out of control.
AoS ghosts - there used to be ghosts anyway but now they are organised, radicalised and ranked up by Nagash. Ghost ISIS!
Super-Skeleton Ossearch Bonereapers - essentially Nagashes 'Space Marines', Skeletons with more Skeletal power, but very specifically _designed_.
Godhood - Yes
Creator on the Tabletop - yes
Creation on the Tabletop - yes
Method - soul corruption, soul manipulation, soul recycling/upcycling.

Sigmar and Grungi - kitbashing best pals

Sigmar - god of beards and hammers but not dwarves, and Grungi, god of Dwarves until he "went out for cigarettes" - now best pals and hanging out in the heavenly realm making super-bodies for heroic souls.
The new stormcast even have Grungis 'makers mark' on them
Godhood - yes
Creator on the Tabletop - no
Creation on the Tabletop - yes
Method - soul upcycling/magical bodies

Teclis - soul-recycling eugenicist "ethnogroup optimisation specialist"

Teclis and Tyrion, the good (ish) elven gods, got togeher with the more goth elven gods and after somehow tricking Slaanesh into letting zirself be tied up, proceeded to stomach pump him/her of all the elven souls that got consumed in the death of the old world.
Results were mixed. Seems like it took Teclis a few tries to get 'proper' elves and the castoffs escaped into the sea in what was no doubt a heart-warming pixar film. Still, all the current elves are presumably descended from his stomach-pumping operation.
Godhood - yes
Creator on the Tabletop - yes
Creation on the Tabletop - yes
Method - soul recycling/upcycling

Fabius ("Fabulous Bill") Bile

A distaff member of this club. Famous for being an "ethnogroup optimisation specialist", most of his lore involves him trying to make new forms of mankind, though unfortunately none of these have ever been produced +specifically+ as minis.
Godhood - no but by now kind of yes
Creator on the Tabletop - yes
Creation on the Tabletop - not really
Method - SCIENCE! (plus mild [serious] sorcery)

Ahzek Ahriman

Not famous as a big designer, and not a deliberate creator, but after turning his friends to dust he can now hang out with them on the table.
Godhood - no
Creator on the Tabletop - yes
Creation on the Tabletop - yes
Method - magical accident

Genestealer Patriarch

Finally a father figure that sticks around and looks after the gene-line. Infects your gonads and controls your brain.
Godhood - no, but if feels like yes
Creator on the Tabletop - yes
Creation on the Tabletop - yes
Method - GENETICS (plus psychic parasitism)
What, if anything, does any of this mean?
Its curious no? - this repeated relationship of the creator and creation, the shaper and the shaped, inside a paracosm which is itself based around those things shaped
all of these little men have a designer, or more likely a gestalt of designers, but at every point there has been a human mind, or a series of them, deciding the shape and arrangement of every single piece of forM, specifically arranging all the symbols and symbology, thinking about the silhouette, the god angle profile, what they look like arranged as a group, the types of forms and shapes used and how they relate.
And in the world there are designers with personalities with specific histories and backgrounds, who are even aware of each other, and who are engaging in the same, or similar processes. You can imagine Sigmar and Grungi having a sit-down meeting with a whiteboard the same way the GW design team might have had
Replication of a thought process, or a role of creation, within the creation itself. Holographic. Ian McGilchrist would probably relate this to left-hemispheric dominance - the obsession with re-creating a 'model of reality'. It reminds me of homunculus theory - the man inside the man, and the recursive question of the nature of consciousness.
It also reminds me of the multiple D&D dungeons and modules arranged around models of the brain.
What is happening with all these imagined creators? Perhaps the mirroring of a function which is impossible to observe directly, but its imputs and outputs can be observed, so this replication and recursive repetition of the role of the creator - split into a thousand shards (ok maybe 5 to 10 shards max) is a kind of spectrometer reading of the emotional, psychological and cognitive role of creator.
A reading of a gestalt, of "Games Workshop".
So what do they have in common?;
Nothing from Nothing.
None of the creators create from nothing, most adapt something else - most of the 40k charaters start with basic humanity and alter it with science and a little bit of magic, but beneath all of their 'creations' is a prior - standard, forgotten human, a template for creation, to be morphed and altered in a huge range of ways.
The AoS fantasy creators start with souls or the pieces of souls - this is the molten plastic of their dreams.
Grungi and Sigmar pull mortal souls from the moment of death, Nagash corrupts, infects, and combines pieces of soul energy into something new. Teclis stomach pumped his, but everything comes from somewhere else.
A great curiosity of the Warhammer world is that there are, (i think) no *primary creators* - there is not Brahma or God of Abraham who simply says "Lo - let there be souls where there weren't before", instead, all of these changes and alterations are built either on a quotidian life imagined mainly through its inferences in the lore, or from relics of a recovered past.
Sketchy Creators and Hidden Flaws.
Almost all of the creators have a slightly-sketchy to very-corrupt relationship with their creations. The act of creation is almost never a clean on it seems, there are bad feelings involved.
Nagash, Fabius and the Genestealers are clearly meant to be bad, but Teclis is good-ish and essentially dumped an entire race for being "imperfect" and even the elves that passed quality control ended up going mental.
The Stormcast have their flaws, many are a bit odd to begin with and they buy immortality at the price of slowly becoming divine golem with each re-creation.
Space Marines - well read any Aaron Dembski-Bowden book for a deep dive on the strangled feelings in that relationship.
What a strange curiosity in that the accumulated inferences of these connected paracosm'(s) is that the act of creation itself is a violent act, in some ways an almost, (or directly) cruel act, for which both creator and creation must pay some kind of price, and which is never entirely morally pure.
Every creation is a little crime. Every act of selection and shaping carries some kind of moral cost, which every creator hopes will be paid off by the final result.


  1. Ghost ISIS sounds sick

    It’s fucked up that you can’t find a straightforward clashing of the swords video on youtube nowadays, just because it’s the quote unquote “ISIS theme song”. It’s gotta all be dubstep this technoterror that. What happened to the dream of open information? Freedom for data? Stallman? Where’s that guy at.

    The slaahesh soul stomach-pump feels like a “missing myth”. There’s nothing quite like that I’ve heard before. Perhaps there is something new under the Sun.

    1. Slannesh soul stomach-pump = the Harrowing of Hell?

  2. I notice too that they are all male. Female creator figures seem more common in fantasy than our own wretched world, but not the Worlds of Warhammer, for whatever reason.

    The closest, I suppose, are the Norn Queens of the Tyranids, but I don't know if they count.

    1. "In the 40st milennium... There is only dudes."

  3. K I'm sorry but I hit the wrong button and deleted you in error.

    "Does Emperor count, in creating Primarchs, at least, if not all Space Marines? Belisarius Cawl is kind of recent iteration on it, another turn of the mirror, but the initial creation is still drastic enough, in my opinion, to count.

    It certainly fits under both 'hidden flaws' and 'must pay some kind of price.'"

    Yes I woud say E-Money counts, through he *feels* more disconnected than Sigmar for instance.

    1. (no worries)

      I think it is because Emprah creating Primarchs/Spezz Marines was a story long, long ago, so far it is perceived more background detail than an active act of creation.
      Being 10K years bound to Golden Throne doesn't help in being creative. Could it be said that he even created Living Saints? Seems more like a cosmological coincidence than an active act.

  4. When plastics first rplaced metal it was said the plastics would be much much cheaper to buy... and in truth those frames cost pennies to make. They lied and the entire plastic games workshop is a corporation for wealthy kids of wealthy middle class older kids. That is divisive and a decultivating process.

  5. I feel like the orks reverse this process in weird way they have creators like the rest of the examples listed (the "brainboyz") but that's not their god. Gork and Mork might not even be real even by the standards of the game, and if they are "real" then they were probably created by the orks beliefs themselves.