Monday 15 April 2024

A Review of 'A Tale of Bali' by Vicky Baum

really liked this book but the five stars I give it are based on my experience, and that is influenced strongly by my recent reading of 'The Theatre State' by Geertz', which I found interesting but deeply frustrating. 

 What Geertz failed to Analyse, Baum describes. 

 I imagine that one of the main aims for this book was building enough of a complex emotional, moral, spiritual and social world that when reaching the final part of the book, the great massacre, in which the radja of Badoeng leads a huge crowd of his people directly onto massed Dutch guns in a great ritual suicide, the reader could both see and intuit both why so many people would be willing to commit frentic mass suicide for a dream, and why they might not do so. 

To do that she must build an image of the social and spiritual life of Bali in a few hundred pages, which I think she does pretty well.

Where do I even begin? Bali is full of flowers, trees, wildlife, people, farm animals, its just full. The place is packed. There is nowhere to go where you are not dealing with some complex arrangement of living things. True in many places perhaps but it seems in Bali you feel it more. Someone could probably write an essay on just the use of flowers in, this book alone. 

The farmer, Pak has a bunch of Hibiscus flowers. Its pretty common for men in a certain mood to place an Hibiscus flower behind one ear. Pak is having an affair with the daughter of a local landowner and so is mainlining those flowers, meaning the hibiscus bush in his own compound is laid bare. This is something everyone can see and tells them something particular about Pak, even if they don’t know about the affair. 

This combination of beauty, cultural ritual & signalling, flora & fauna, plus a dude being horny, is perhaps emblematic of the small rituals, behaviours and interactions with life that form almost a substrate, or a half-tongue of this book and the culture it is trying to talk about. Bali, at least in comparison to the temperate north west Europe where I live, feels like a kind of jewel box of life, or a bulging treasure chest of ecosocality.  There are few walls, no, there are many walls, but few completely enclosed spaces. People seem to do much of their living in these part-open shelters within walled compounds but within the compound, though everyone and everything has their and its own place, everything wanders. 

Privacy and secrecy in Bali seem to be almost more social modes than actual hard states, for everything that is not meant to be seen, someone sees it, so the matter is really about whether people will communicate about it, pass on the information. There are trees, forests, shrines, everywhere, as there are people everywhere. So anything can be hidden a little and nothing can be well hidden. 


"Beyond the western courtyards, where most of the slaves lived and kept their poultry and pigs, rose a wall, and beyond this wall the stir and noise of the puri suddenly ceased. It bounded a ruinous part of it where no one lived and no one ever went. Creepers and shrubs had overgrown the tumble-down buildings and dragged them to the ground in their embrace. The chief building of this forgotten courtyard was surrounded by a ditch, but the bridge had given way and sunk into the water. The demons who guarded the entrance were nothing now but moss-covered blocks of stone. Wild bees made their homes in the trees and huge butterflies hovered undisturbed above the flowers. Mosquitoes hung in dense clouds over the stagnant water and the smell of decay mingled with the penetrating scent of salicanta flowers.” 


Raka - the Chad; 

"But after a while his attention wandered and he looked again at Raka, whom he found particularly pleasing. A black head-dress whose edges had a pattern in gold was wound about his glossy hair; he wore a kain of dark wine-red in which a silver thread gleamed here and there, and a lion-cloth of brown silk encircled his remarkably slender hips and reached to his chest. He was not adorned with hibiscus flowers as the lord and most of the other men were; instead he had a single orchid in the middle of his forehead, which by its shape and the way it crept out beneath his head-dress suggested an animal rather than a flower. This scorpion-like orchid was indefinably in keeping with Raka's fine, arched nostrils and oblique eyes and long eye-lashes. The sensuous outline of his lips made him seem to be always smiling in a half-mocking mysterious way." 


Raka in ‘Tale’ is the emblematic example of beloved Balinese manhood. I would say he is the ‘Chad’ of the community, the star football player, the vector of everyone’s hopes and desires. The very beautiful, very charming, expert dancer beloved by all and welcome anywhere. In some ways Raka is what it’s like to be “truly Balinese”, in the same way that being Taylor Swift is what it’s like to be “truly American”. He gives us a view, not from the very top of its hierarchies, but from the very centre of its culture. He is the man who the culture has made and who it is made for. A magnificent man happy to play a magnificent role, a hand within a glove, (until things go wrong in the latter parts of the book).

Alit - the mid Radja 

(too many books and opium) 

"There was only one place on this morning of noise and excitement where silence reigned, and that was the house of the old lord of Pametjutan. The old man had passed the night in great pain and now lay exhausted on his couch, propped up with many kapok cushions at his back. The two balains of Badoeng and Taman Sari has been in attendance. They had massaged him and given him narcotics and now the prince felt easier. He pulled at his opium pipe and his head grew clearer and threw off the fevered haze of the night. Alit, the young lord, his nephew, whom he had adopted, squatted beside him and his usually limp face had a remarkable expression of concentration, of exertion, of perhaps preoccupation. He, too, was smoking opium to clear his head for the hard thinking this critical hour required. Unconsciously he let his fingers run up and down the vertebrae of Oka's spine. The boy crouched at his feet and his warm smooth skin had a warming effect on his master. 

"We are agreed then, father,' Alit said, 'we cannot submit to the shameless demands of the Dutch. They are only seeking an excuse to humble us. If we give way to them this time, they will find some new reason for oppressing us. They are proud , although they have no caste, and they have no manners. They do not seem to understand with whom they are dealing. Because a few lords have turned renegades and traitors they think they can cow us all. They will see that they are deceived about Badoeng." 

The old lord looked at the younger one before he spoke. 

"I am old and tired and sickness has made the fighting blood in me slothful and often clouds my thoughts. But you are young and you must oppose your heart and your forehead to the white men. I have watched you grow up and I was not sure that you would hold to the way of our fathers. Sometimes you seemed to me to think more as a Hrahman than as a Ksatira. I am glad that you would have not forgotten your kris for your books." 

 "I have discoursed' Alit replied, ' in long prayers with our forefathers. My friend, the pendata of Taman Sari, has spent many days and nights with me and helped me to find the way. The old books, my father, are as string as the kris, and even stronger when they are understood rightly. I have learnt one thing from them - that I am nothing. I, Alit, the lord of Badoeng. I am only a link in the chain, one single bamboo pole in the whole bridge. I must hand on what I have received from my mighty forefathers. I am not free and it is not permitted to me to act by my own choice. I cannot give away or throw away or sell my inheritance and I must stand firm there where my birth has set me. That is what I have read in the books." 


Alit, the friend, lets say, very close friend of Raka, and by his descent and culture, literal lord of all, or most, he surveys. A somewhat physically unprepossessing man, like most Balinese aristocracy of the time, doing waaaaaaaay too much opium, and facing the incursions and slowly tightening claims of the Dutch, and of the outside world generally. 

 Alit does occupy the top of the hierarchy, and while not a perfect expression of his cultures higher qualities like Raka, he knows a lot more about it. (All that time spent with the Palm Leaf texts). He knows the dream of his culture, the background invisible part of any society that its hard to intuit without living in it for a good long time, and maybe without being born in it. 

He is not just an aristocrat, in the same way that, in Tuchmans ‘A Distant Mirror’ the Sire de Coucy was not just a soldier, or even just a knight, and like Alit, at the end of his book, de Coucy commits something that looks a lot like ritual suicide by-foe, for equally deep and obscure reasons of honour and selfhood. 

 A lot of this relates to the Indic tradition still present in Bali. Alits sense of himself of simply fulfilling a role in an inevitable process which will result in him entering heaven would make sense to Arjuna being advised by Krishna in his chariot, just as the general three-part structure of Balinese society would make sense to the steppe invaders of India, who, by a very long chain of circumstance, also gave Europe the same three-part society, and perhaps germinated de Coucy’s final doom-and-honour death charge, a long way away and many years separate from Alit. 

Pak – the everyman 

Pak is probably the most interesting, frustrating character in the book. An image of the Balinese everyman. He is kind of slightly stupid but at least knows that he is. He is hard working, loves his fields, is trying to save up enough to have his mothers bones cremated, has lost sexual interest in his (probably more intelligent) wife Pluglug, has vague dreams of somehow becoming more, and is sexually obsessed with the daughter of one of his landowners. 

A not-that-good, but not very bad man who loves his family, generally, plays his part in the gamelan orchestra (always being sent here and there), the rice hydraulic cult, the village meetings, as a somewhat competent household leader, a son, a father, a slightly crap husband, the guy dreaming and doing most of the heavy plough work, (always kind to his cow, it’s a tragedy when she gets sick and dies). 

A man, in Balinese terms, who could go from the borders of poverty to the borders of low wealth in the course of a year, and does. If there is one thing Pak can do relatively well, its work, (and play his role in a crazed plethora of community organisations and cults), and he does a lot of work; 

Paks new house; 

"'I am employed in building the house for a second wife and her house has to be a finer one than my main house,' he said in one breath, for he had thought out this piece of eloquence beforehand. He could not possibly have hit on a better way of informing Wajan of his designs on Sarna and respecting the proprieties at the same time. 

'I heard something about it.' The old man remarked. "I wish you joy and peace in your house.' 

'I have been looking round for trees for the timbers of my new house. Nobody has such fine ones as you and I wanted to ask whether you would sell me six durian trees and four palm trees from your northern plantation. 

'Why not?' Wajan said. He would reckon the price and perhaps he would let him have them, although he had really intended them for fruit. Pak in his reply again laid stress on his desire to build a fine house, and repeated that Wajan's trees would suit him better than any in the village. But when Wajan asked for six hundred kepengs a tree, Paks heart sank and he gasped for air. he could not pay this price, and yet he did not wish to appear a poor man in the eyes of his future father-in-law. 

He offered to pay half down and to work for the rest in Wajans sawahs. 

When at last the deal was concluded, Wajan sent his youngest son up a palm tree and offered Pak the milk of a young coco-nut as an honoured guest and Pak walked home on air, swollen with pride and satisfaction. 

Next day he went with his axe, accompanied by several of his friends, to fell the first four palms. he did as his father had taught him. He embraced the trunk of each palm. 'Palm tree, my mother,' he said, 'I must fell you not because I wish to kill you, but because I need posts for my house. Forgive me, dear palm, and allow me to cleave your trunk with my axe." 

And when they felled the trees and their crowns sank to earth with a loud rustling, Pak felt the strength of ten men in him, for he caught sight of Sarna hiding in the plantation watching him work; and nothing makes a man so happy as when the right woman admires him as he works. 

While the trees were left to dry, he went out to cut bamboo stems for the roof, and he was fortunate in having a bamboo thicket on the edge of his sawahs; so he did not have to buy them. The bamboos grew cool and tall, shading the stream that ran beneath them, and Pak had good weather for cutting them and shortening them to the right length. He also mowed alang-alang grass for the thatch; it grew tall in his uncles pasture, almost up to his chest. It hissed and whispered as it fell to his sickle and lay in swathes and was dry in two days and ready to be tied in bundles. 

He spoke to Krkek, who sent him men to help him build the roof, and he paid them with rice from his well-filled barns. ...... For now he had the walls to finish and the door to fix, besides working in Wajans sawahs to pay for the trees. 

He also spent a lot of time cock-fighting, for he felt happy and successful and could bet with a good courage. His white cock did, in fact, win three time, and in this way Pak procured seven hundred of the three thousand kepangs he owed Wajan. 

And he went to the beach collecting coral, which contained a lot of chalk, and carried it in baskets to the lime-kiln in Sanoer and gave the lime-burner six ripe coco-nuts for burning him beautiful white lime to wash the walls of his house with. 

Also he took his copra to the Chinese, Njo Tok Suey, and got two thousand two hundred kepangs for it. It was a poor price, but it helped towards the expenses that still lay before him." 


The Srawah

Pak has a great  fighting bird of near magical potency and through this we see the dreams of his small soul burn. The whole chapter about Paks fighting cock and how much it means to him is magnificent. People who do not get the cock chapter cannot be my homie; 


"He scarcely knew himself afterwards how it happened. he had arrogantly refused various matches, which for one reason or another did not appeal to him, and then when the keeper of the lord's cocks held the red one out to him he did not dare say no. 

He looked at the Srawah and he saw that he wanted to fight the red one and conquer him. 

Terror and courage laid hold on him at once. And he accepted combat. 

It was the same red cock that had killed the punggawa's white one, before whom Pak had beaten a retreat that day. he had been jeered at and mocked. His cock was a good one - as good as any lords cock. He took on the match and won. 

Pak never forgot his excitement as the clamour broke out behind him and the men jumped to their feet and the bets got bigger and it dawned on him that this was the match of the day. When he released his cock for its battle with the lord's his arteries were so full of throbbing blood that he felt as if his chest would burst. 

He staked twenty-five ringits himself - a fortune. Thousands of ringits were laid against his cock, money enough to buy a whole kingdom. There stood his Srawh, white with his black down-feathers and he himself was but a man of low caste. many of the lords of Bali with all their households betted against him- but the smith had put a hundred ringits on the Srawah. 

When the fight began and the clamour ceased on the instant, Pak felt that his heart had stopped, to beat no more. There were five rounds in the fight, for neither cock could wound the other. Five times the coco-nut shell sank and five times the gong went for the next round. Five times Pak carried his cock into the corner, talked to him, bathed him, breathed his strength into him, encouraged and implored him to fight, to conquer, not to leave him in the lurch. The ring was strewn with feathers white and red. Some of the lords jumped down from their platform and crouched on the ground to get a better view. The lord of Badoeng crouched beside Pak, the peasant, and shouted for excitement. Pak could hear himself shouting too. 

In the sixth round the Srawah killed the red cock. Pak was bathed in sweat when he bore his cock away. He had to be careful not to drop the ringits he had won. He nearly cut himself as he untied the spurs, his hands shook so. His cocks heart beat so violently that he feared he might after all collapse and die of a burst heart, merely from the excitement of the fight and his victory. 

My cock has beaten the raja's, he told himself. My cock has beaten the radja's, my cock has beaten the radja's. He bought him a rice cake and sat down beside his basket on the grass. My cock has beaten the radja's."


The End

But in the end, what happens? 

‘A fine cock, the anak Agung said. He bent down and lifted the bird from the grass with his own hands, ran his fingers through his plumage and felt his weight. The cock crowed, flapped his wings and struggled. The anak Agung held his feet and counted the rings on his middle claw. “A genuine Srawah,” he said with awe. 

Pak nodded. “I have been offered a hundred ringits for him,” he said. It was more than he could do to keep it in. 

“The lord has taken a fancy to your cock. He does you the honour to accept him,” the anak Agung Bima said. 

He beckoned to a man and gave him the bird to take away. Pak was left with the empty basket by the side of the road. His gullet was bitter as on the day when the eyes of his brother Meru were put out.’ 


As well as taking his Srawah by right, the radja had also ritually blinded Paks brother, a sculptor, who can now no longer sculpt or help much in the fields. 

This was for probably having an affair with one of the Radjas wives, though the stated reason was for ‘looking’ too covetously upon her. Obviously Alit had to do this because he has to defend his honour and if he lets some guy sleep with one of his wives then his honour, and authority, and role, and the stability it brings, is lessened. 

Alit isn’t that interested in most of his wives, he was busy with Raka during the wedding and so had them marry his kris knife instead, which was ritually the same thing. 


As the Dutch claims close in, Alit conclusively decides to defy them, not to pay any fine, though several groups offer to help or to pay for him, and to resist with force, which leads to the great ending, where everyone is summoned first to fight for the Radja, then, (the second summoning is explicitly optional), to die with him in a Glorious Sacrifice. 

‘”A rumour has come to me on the wind that the punggawa is a friend to the Dutch and is in their pay as the gusti Njoman is. Perhaps he is a traitor as the other is. Who has told you that his advice was is right?” the old man asked obstinately. 

Pak folded his hands and replied; “The radja put out the eyes of my brother, your son. He has taken my best cock from me. I will not fight for the radja.” 

“We are all the lord’s servants,” the old man replied. “My father served him and I, too, and you. The sawahs whence our rice comes belong to the radja. We belong to the radja. When he sends out the holy kris to summon us, we must go.” 

 When the old man had said this he spat out his betel-juice and looked straight in front of him. An oppressive silence weighed on the rest. The cocks crowed from the back of the yard. The women in the kitchen had never kept so quiet. The old man got up and crossed the yard and disappeared behind the rice barn. After a while they saw him coming back again; he had a lance in his hand and his kris in his girdle. He stopped in front of his three sons and looked at them all in turn. Meru raised his face to his father, for he could feel his eyes resting on his head. 

Pak folded his hands and asked in the ceremonious style used to a superior: “Whither does my father mean to go?” 

“To join the radja’s warriors,” the old man answered. “Peace rest with you.” 

They bowed themselves with hands clasped and looked after him as he left the yard by the narrow gate. Pak felt as desolate as he used to feel when a child if darkness overtook him out in the pastures with the buffaloes.” 


Honestly I’m with Pak on this one. He is a man of no caste and the entire caste system is based on people fulfilling their role. He has been told his whole life that his role is farming and that he absolutely is not allowed the privileges of a fighting caste, then he is told to fight, and not just to fight but to fight with no hope of success in what is at least in part an obscure matter of honour for his lord. 

He has a shitload of dependants to take care of; mid guy that he is, he is still the core economic engine and main legal and cultural protection for all of them. 

If he goes off to die then who is going to look after his blind brother and two wives, and children, and who will plough the sawas? Even without resentment he has a pretty good argument for not getting himself killed. 

 Though of course it was resentment that broke the deadlock in this instance; THEY TOOK HIS SRAWAH, (and also blinded his brother).

Monday 25 March 2024

Eschat-Jihad and the Red Lands

an Unbalanced Skirmish Game of Deception, Madness and Causality Horror, set in the Eklipsis/Prescience Wars paracosm. 

(No, I haven’t actually worked out an entire skirmish game ruleset. I would be crap at actual rule building anyway, but I did get very wrapped up in imagining how one might work and especially in considering different types of Causal Horror and thinking about how they might be incorporated into a game. 

Here is a ‘Planning Document’ for ‘Eschat-Jihad, with a bit on the core ideas, a section on the various Factions and how they might work and be represented, and finally a very long section on ideas in Causal Horror. 

A lot of the art was suggested by people on Discord, so thanks for that.) 


Joseph Mugnaini


Core Ideas 

Inspired a bit by things like ‘Bone Forest’, ‘Trench Crusade’ and the 28-Mag, Eschat-Jihad is an asymmetric, low model skirmish game with semi-random, hidden goals, surreal terrain and Causal  Horror. 

Its models and terrain are conceptualised for artists, kitbashers, and the like to be strange and surreal, especially the terrain. 

Its meant to be a somewhat hipstery/arty game where you play as much for the pleasure of creating and seeing how the manifold horrors turn out as much as to win. It would have a lot of the card flipping and shifting goals of Warhammer but instead of producing granular somewhat non-diegetic aims it would be designed specifically to produce strangeness. So maybe a little like playing through a surrealist film as a wargame.


Kjell Daniel Francisco



The battles of Eschat-Jihad take place amongst and between the factions of a Dark Future and those of a Dark Past. 

In the Past, the Iron Path and Amber Court are are locked in the ‘Prescience Wars’, and apocalyptic magical conflict which will eventually collapse causality into the Red Lands – a Beksynski-style meta hellscape. 

In time, (if such a thing can be said to exist in the Red Lands), a True Hero emerges and leads a crusade to re-make Causality, binding up the shattered lands and strands and creating a liveable reality with a coherent chronology. 

Then, he goes, or maybe always was, insane, and summons Azathoth. Now his descendants pray to Azathoth, who hangs I the sky over their lands, blotting out the sun, in order to delay His annihilation while rebels and surrounding lands war against them to overthrow their evil rule. 

Factions from the past of the Prescience Wars send warriors into their future that is the Red Lands in order to assure their own victory and prevent the apocalypse the Red Lands represent. 

Factions from the future send their own warriors into their past in order to ensure the Apocalypse happens, for they are its children. 

At the same time, factions within the Past and Future, war against each other. In the Past the Amber Court battles the Iron Path, while in the Future the Knights of Eklipsis battle Suleman of the Black Gates and Villains from within their own kingdom. 

And throw in an extra faction; The Hordes of Causality, from the Red Lands themselves, representing the will of that anti-Causal Hell. 

Here, in the Nightmare Reality which is the Red Lands, these warbands meet and battle, though often for causes and ideas even they do not really understand, each fighting to preserve their existence and for their own view or philosophy of Causality itself.




Rules Concepts 

·        Battle as a form of performance.

·        Simple basic rules.

·        But highly metatextual rules specific to each faction. 

Each faction has an entirely different perception of Causality, different culture and a different understanding of what victory means. 

Therefore each sides objectives are fundamentally different, hidden and semi-random each game, meaning its possible, in some circumstances, for both sides to win, or for both to lose, or indeed to lose/win at the last moment as a groups perception of Causality shifts. 

Understanding the enemies culture and perception of Causality is key to intuiting and obstructing their goals for each match, (assuming you even want to do that and are not just focusing on your own, (or are just vibing)).

Piotr Rusjowski





Samuel Araya

The Knights of Eklipsis 

I already did a whole series on these guys so check the blog.


Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

They live in a Kingdom in permanent Eclipse because Azathoth is hovering in their sky blotting uot the Sun. The ‘Sleeping King’ summoned Azathoth and his Knights betrayed him, stabbing him in the back 13 times with poisoned daggers, though even this only caused him to fall into a sleep. 

These are the descendants of those Knights. They worship Azathoth and believe their worship delays the final annihilation of all things. They return to the Red Lands to make sure the Apocalypse happens so the Sleeping King can emerge from the Red Lands to remake Causality, and so lead to their current state. 

They are the dominant force in the Realm/World they come from, and everyone else there hates them because of the whole Azathoth thing, and a bunch of other stuff they do. 

Military Forces 

Knights! Dak gothic somewhat elfin knights from a whole range of groups and orders. (I already have loads of these). Also I guess peasants (blue) and Sorcerer/priests of the Black Church. 

Force is arranged around its highly individual and very odd elite heavy cavalry, with some backup from shitty foot troops, Priests, squires, footmen and animals. Only the knights really matter (everyone else is replaceable) and the behaviours and win conditions all spring from and relate to the Knights. 

Their goals are influenced by Eklispsis Dark Religion and Knightly codes of honour. 

Super-evil Brettonians plus Undead plus Dark Elf aesthetic is the closest thing with already existing miniatures. Ian Miller Knights would also work. Slender Chaos Knights also. 

Concepts of Time 

·        Religious and apocalyptic

·        Tied to the living presence of a singular God (who is Azathoth)

·        A bit similar to mediaeval millenarian Christianity if they worshipped the Nuclear Chaos.

·        A sacred trust inherited from the Sleeping King and sustained by him and by Azathoth.

·        A universally held textual description of Causality describing the entire arc of all time from beginning to end – though quite metaphorical, short on details or exact times and seemingly intra-contradictory.

·        Still, they have Faith!


Remedios Varo


Suleman of the Black Gates 

The main remaining opposition to the Knights of Eklipsis in the Dark Future of Azathoth. A faction influenced by a general grab-bag of Ottoman, North African and Arabic culture but somewhat realised and Oprey-ified by putting through a neo-Ottoman blender. Though honestly throw in a Lammasu or something if you like. 

“The Emperor Sueman has the body of a Bull, the wings of an Eagle and the bearded face of a man. He was famed for thousands of years as a just and wise ruler, a mighty warrior and a master of many magics. He spoke the language of Birds, Djinn, Devils and Ants. He commanded the Arch-Devil Asmodeus who, bound to his will, served him for many years as Vizier, before his ultimate betrayal and escape at the height of the fourth Cold Crusade. 

Suleiman can read minds, scry his enemies, see the future in a limited way, turn invisible, teleport at will and no doubt perform other miraculous actions. His seal is unbreakable once set and can be used to bind creatures like Devils or Djinn if they are subdued first. At the height of his power he commanded the direct loyalty of men, centaurs, birds, djinn, devils and ants as his subjects.” 

The Kingdom of Suleman has access to its own form of Time Travel, ripped straight off from Ted Chaing’s story ‘The Merchant and the Alchemists Gate’ and using exactly the same mechanics, but systematised and spread over an entire Kingdom. 

The Sulemites are fatalistic and so don’t believe the past can be changed, (from their perspective it never is), but one can understand it and perhaps plant things there that are yet to be revealed about their own future 

They hate Azathoth and Eklipsis and are sympathetic to the forces of the Past but believe their cause it doomed so won’t aid them. 

Military Forces 

High morale, fatalistic, professionally trained and those sent to the Red Lands are all veterans of various wars. Largely Turkish influenced, with north African and Saharan elements. 

Ottaman-style cavalry, Zuavre-style infantry, limited use of gunpowder. Their leaders can be sentient, intelligent Arabic and Persian monsters like Sphinx and Lamia but other than that no magical or post-human technology or powers (they don’t really believe in it). 

The leaders or officers can be travellers of the Black Gate, meaning they have used a Gate to travel a set distance into their own past. The forces of Suleman don’t think the past can be changed, so they don’t seek to change what they already believe has taken place, but they do work to find gaps in what is known or understood, to change the meaning or inflection of what has been and to gain wisdom for when or if they loop back into their expected timeline 

Concepts of Time 

·        Rationalist, scientific, fate-bound, fatalistic.

·        All travellers are partial-looping.

·        People are allowed into the gate in the past because the operators recognise them as having come out of it previously.

·        Gates only work in-situ and only for the persons future or past, which they are in so their culture is based around maintaining well-preserved sacred sites for as long as possible.

·        Their culture can only communicate “with itself” over the course of its own existence.

·        All of its messages are true (notwithstanding human error)

·        All ‘future events have already happened (but there may be things we do not understand about them).

·        All of this might be thrown into disorder in the Anti-Causal Red Lands.


Kjell Daniel-Francisco


Villains of Eklipsis

 (Literal ‘villains’ in the early-modern Shaksperian sense).

 A mix of rebels, criminals and Heretics of Eklipsis, those opposed to the Black Church, Azathoth and that whole culture.

 A crazy grab-bag of semi-fairytale-like Rebel Alliance who use radical time travel spells or steal the ability from Eklipsis itself and go back into the past, but with what aim? This could depend a lot on the mixture of their party and who or what is leading it.

Their aim is a fundamental opposition to Eklipsis and that entire situation. They would be fine with the ‘Red Lands’ apocalypse never happening/never having happened. Like many of the ‘Past’ factions they are trying to avert the Red Lands, but unlike them they don’t care about who wins, or about humanity at all. They would have probably been happy in the Pre-Prescience Wars Era.


Stephanie Law In Green Shadows

Military Forces 

Very wild and whacky, with lots of conditional or strange special powers. 

Vere Agentia – the children of imprisoned Summer, with a cyclic understanding of time. Cypto ents, deep cover dryads, seed dryads, woodwose and summer elementals 

Haereticorum Ineptias – literal absurdist anti-causalists. Baku, Hollyphants, Foo Creatures, Blue Dogs and Yellow Bears, the Roly-Poly Bird and Jub-Jub Bird, the Opinicus 

Backup comes from the Avis Invefernalis – Birds like Simurgh, Phoenix, Roc, etc. From minoris heretics like Moon Dogs, Monkey Men, Blink Dogs, Grims, Thaw Mephits etc

Rob Gonsalves

A ‘playful chaos’ faction, (as opposed to the Scary-Chaos of the Hordes of Causality. They would focus on deception, disruption, cycles and frame shifts. These would probably work well against the more ‘Orderly’ forces whom they can ‘bawd’ nicely, but not against the Hordes of Causality, to whom Order and Reason are no more than Dreams anyway, and who the ‘Villains’ would have to battle in a more prosaic fashion. 

Concepts of Time 

If dominated by the Vere Agentia then a cyclic impression of Time predominates and the aim is to restore the cycle. 

If dominated by Haereticorum Ineptas then an absurdist or anti-causal or playful impression of time dominates in which the aim is to disrupt, subvert or make ridiculous whatever others desire.


Remedios Varo



The Amber Court 

A chief faction of the ‘Prescience Wars’ – led by the ‘Twice Redacted King’ whose name cannot be comprehended, often commanded by one of the ‘Orouboros Kin’  - Children raised in the Amber Court in full knowledge of their own futures. This is a world-spanning Empire (in its later form), dedicated to the full exploitation of all forms of Prescience, (under centralised control). They send out their forces commanded by the various Haptic Ranks and Ocular Ranks of the Court. They are meant to have a near-perfect knowledge of the future, but the Red Lands of course often confuse and invalidate this. Their war against the Iron Path, and the ever more extreme use of magical ‘workings’ lead to the ‘Red Shift’ and the Red Lands Apocalypse. 

Obviously they completely blame the Iron Path for all of this. They go into the future of the Red Lands to make sure it doesn’t happen and to ensure the rapid defeat of the Iron Path to make certain of this. 

They are opposed to all Post-Apocalyptic forces because they are invalid spawn of a nightmare that should never take place. 

Military Forces 

Combination of 17th/18th Century France under the Sun King, Renaissance Germany and T’ang/medieval Dynasty China. Think massed armies full of braggadocio and glorious peacocking. 

Largely conventional, albeit large forces, disciplined on the surface but inwardly often riven with hysterics and secret tensions. Lots of low quality infantry with high but fragile morale, (i.e. hard to break once but crushingly easy after that). 

T’ang versions of Currassiers as bodyguards for the Emissarys of the Amber Court. High status bodyguard units like T’ang versions of Landsknechts and Doppelsoldiers. 

Tend to fight in a manner reminiscent of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms – big on tricks, deception and strategy dictated by a central commander who has already predicted and planned for everything. (Until this goes horribly wrong.)  

Concepts of Time 

·        Believe very deeply that the future can be both predicted and changed.

·        They adventure in their own Apocalypse -  the Red Lands, in the belief that they can discover enough to prevent it occurring.

·        Opposed to all future factions as they are ‘post apocalyptic’ insane barbarians. They specifically want the future indicated by the Knights of Eklipsis to not happen. They are also totally opposed to the only other faction from their own time; the Iron Path, who they blame for everything.

·        They play the most like a normal warband but with extra ‘tricks’ from Prescience and lots of ‘yes, but’ powers.

·        All according to Keikaku.


The Iron Path


from 'Cromwell'

A faction, originally radical, eventually coming to encompass all non-Amber Court aligned entities. 

The prime enemy of the Amber Court in the “Past”, they fight specifically against the concept and use of Prescience itself. Like the Court they believe that the future can be grasped and shaped by human will, but crucially, only in the absence of Prescience itself, which makes slaves of humanity. 

Like the Amber Court they battle all future factions as ‘warnings’ of an ‘apocalypse’ to come, for which they blame the Amber Court entirely. 

Early Pathists oppose the Red Lands, fighting to prevent the Apocalypse. Later more radical and insane pathist factions may have pro-Apocalypse leanings, since the annihilation of Causality is a sure defeat of Prescience.  

Military Forces 

English Civil War Puritan or Cromwellian. Radical Protestant. Muted, armoured uniformity. 

Very high morale, quite high quality infantry and muted visible power differentials. Lots of iron and steel. Think Pikemen and Shotte. Hard to break infantry means they stick around a long time. Extreme fanaticism may make them hard to control and can be a double-edged sword when confronting the horrors of the Red Lands 

Extreme radicalism later giving way to Taliban-esque murder squads. Late versions likely to make use of memetic terror weapons, unthinkable anti-causal weapons, mnemovores, or simply fire. Later instantiation have the most radical uses of magic/technology. 

Concepts of Time 

Originally a semi-humanist view in which concerted reasoned effort can shape human futures in positive ways, long years of warfare transformed the Iron Path (or perhaps these tendencies were always there), into an extremely radical, Nietzschean cult of pure human freedom and self determination guaranteed by absolute resolution, willpower and the willingness to make any sacrifice in blood, treasure or morality in order to defeat Prescience, and finally into one that believes that such sacrifices are good and noble in themselves. 

“Better Time die than Men be Slaves.”


The Hordes of Causality



Born of, or perhaps only existing with, the ‘Red Lands, these are people, creatures and entities that either come from outside Causality, or are products of its ruination. 

Relentlessly time-looped individuals or groups, Paradox factions, Mnemovore or Mnemovore-aligned. The Yellow King or other Memetic forces. ‘Bodieless’ or ‘unborn’ minds, personalities or philosophies which may instantiate themselves by varied methods, or perhaps spreading like a disease. Sometimes lost or abandoned forces from other groups which have taken to the Red Lands. 

They fight from madness, from glee, from despair, or simply by chance. All of reality is like a Nightmare to them and they would make it so for all. More a spreading wave front of anti-causal insanity and total chaos than a ‘faction’. 

Military Forces 

A seeming rabble of impossible grieving things. 

Are they even arranged together in anything like a hierarchy? Are they organised or is this simply a group of entities that happen to be alongside each other at this particular moment? 

No plan or discipline, no morale to disrupt or plan to unfurl. Call them ‘Zombies’ or ‘Mutants’ if you like, or forms of the Cybernetic undead, or broken golems, or mind-viruses, or devils or demons or the half-unreal. 

Extensive random interrupts and random actions. Highly destructive if they ever cohere but utterly unpredictable even to their own player. 

Concepts of Time 

In a sense these are anti-colonial forces. The Red Shift or Red Lands are their home and inexorably attached to their nature. They are the living breath of the Causal apocalypse. They are the final product of a Causal war and the ultimate and last fate of all that lives. They are bordered to the future and the past by those who would eliminate or destroy them, removing the Apocalypse and reasserting Causal Time. Though they have little plan, their actions tend towards the growth and extension of the Red Lands till they cover the whole of the future and the whole of the past, till there are nothing but Red Lands anywhen. They are against All Things, Forever, even Azathoth, which is a kind of formal end to reality. For the Red Shift Hordes there is no end and no beginning, there is nothing, and everything, forever and never.


concept art from Disneys 'Back Hole'



To Make the Red Lands 

But, of what are the ‘Red Lands’ composed? 

Artistically, key influences are Miller, Geiger, Beksynski. So I started there and asked for recommendations. The images in this article are the result. 

Conceptually I tried delving into concepts I had pegged in my head as ‘Causality Horror’ or ‘Reality Horror’, made up of bits and pieces I had gathered from various places. 

From that I expanded outwards through ideas or concepts that seemed linked either emotionally or intellectually. I ended up with a curates egg of an essay that doesn’t work fully as a system of classification or a means of exploration but is torn between the two, more of a ‘TV Tropes’ article, but less capacious than those. 

Still, maybe I can make it useful by considering how these ideas might be used in ‘Eschat Jihad’?



Time and Causality Related 

Kjell Danie Francisco

Cursed Prescience 

Inspired by Pauls funky journey in Dune and by the more tragic elements in Dunes racist child 40k and the questions about pe-determination, self-causing determination, inevitability, choice, the 'golden path', the idea that people with prescience tend to be devoured by their own prescience, or that the human mind or human morality become irrelevant when considering deep prescience (which interlinks with ‘Cursed Understanding of History’ below, which is after all a kind of more-accurate cursed prescience, just going backwards). 

This is a very old story and in its fundamentals reaches back to Fairytales and the fact that, in a Fairytale, whenever a prediction is made it often has some monkeys paw self-causing aspect and often the person receiving the knowledge might have been better off without it. This is Peasant logic, and I don’t mean an insult by that. Peasant logic might win out in the long term over liberal cosmopolitan thought. Loss-averse suspicious Peasants always get screwed from dealing with higher powers and knowledge from the higher realm usually has a venomous bite of some kind. There is a line of descent from the God Emperor of Mankind, through Paul Atradies, the Foundation, all the way back to some Slavic grandmother telling a tale about a fairy’s fortune. 

Use; This most powerful and abstract conflict might be the hardest to execute in a two-person wargame due to the very unpredictable nature of events but a possibility might be something like ‘Continuum’s ‘yet’ system, which is basically a dark Bill & Ted system in which you can ‘create’ knowledge and resources when you need them, because you travelled in time to place them there, but you absolutely must then make placing those resources a core part of your mission going forwards, and should you fail, be destroyed by Paradox. In wargame terms this would just mean getting free stuff in a match but then the placement of that stuff being inescapable goals in further campaign play. 


I’m thinking here more of the ‘sting in the tale’ time loop stories rather than the Groundhog Day anhedonia with its search for meaning and escape. 

Lots of this in Warhammer. In Peter Fehervari's Dark Coil stories characters are often sinking into or moving through non-causal spaces and inflecting or influencing their own or others backstories or futures and in doing so usually bringing about something rather terrible or malign. The Dolorosa Coil in ‘Fire Caste’ or wanderers in ‘The Reverie’ might both fit part of my definition of the ‘Red Lands’. 

Use; The Dolerosa Coil is something like an Amazon River system; dense jungle, hundreds of shifting tributaries, impossible to map. As some characters go deeper and deeper into the Coil, the general sense of loss and separation becomes something more; they become lost in depths which should not be there, encountering people, places and situations which are out of joint and sequence with each other. 

What forms of geography could work well with such a ‘passing into strangeness’? It seems to me that anything either very dense or very nothing might work, the key point being to avoid easily navigable geography, as well as the sense that ‘maps don’t work here’; the geography cannot be easily related to anything outside itself. 

·        A curling jungle/river system like the Coil.

·        Dense karst or close creek and valley systems

·        Dense forest

·        Hypnagogic Desert, or salt plain

·        Empty ocean 

Things to be avoided are those which aid in navigation and in relating one place to another, so; 

·        No single roads or rivers making neat borders

·        No tall points like mountains etc giving good relative directions

·        No settlements where people can give you directions

·        No roads at all

·        No neat coastline giving a clear boundary between sea and land

·        No coherent ruins, only incoherent mixtures of run should be allowed, so the ruins of two cities destroyed at different times & in different places but now overlaid together

·        No worked earth or farms

·        No clear stars or regular celestial movements (the sky is red)

·        The sun should never raise in the same place twice, and days should have unclear lengths

·        Fretted boundaries between ecologies, so no ‘treeline’ or ‘desert’, swamp, delta and islands rather than clear coastline

John Frenches Ahriman stories have its own relentlessly Time-looping protagonist at war with Fate and against himself; looping and manipulating his own timeline to being about whatever he currently thinks is the best option while also fiercely resisting his own past or future efforts to manipulate his ‘current’ existence. 

Use; This works quite well with a Skirmish game for in wargames there are always challenges when you have to fight one side against the same side as that’s what your friend has. In Eschat Jihad it can just be assumed that each of these warbands has the same actual people in them, just at different parts of their timeline, each trying to manipulate or escape the other. 

This could also work well for ‘returning’ dead units to the board as they did, in fact, die, and the new versions are from earlier in their timeline, wandering in to find their own dead bodies. (Or realising they are doppelgangers). 

Mushi-Shi did a soft and elegant version of this with a Mushi that loops someone and feeds off their life, they don't quite realise but with each loop they get worse and worse deja-vu and a formless anhedonia they can't place, explain or escape. Though Mushi-Shi has a more neutral and humanist resolution in which the main characters wife dies and in the end they sacrifice a non-looped future without them in order to experience their life over again, this time with a mixture of sadness and joy. 

(Where are the really dark Time Travel stories? Are there doom-laden Time Travel tales? There are many involving sad inevitability, personal destruction or acceptance of fate but few that are outright horror.)


Rob Gonsalves


Brain Don’t Work 

Science merely Alchemy/we are not capable of Science 

The opening parts of Three Body Problem where it seems like the flood of physicist suicides is caused by a growing awareness that science is not 'true' and is merely an advanced form of alchemy that only approximates truth (though in that book it turns out science is true after all and the evil alien CIA are just conspiring to pretend it isn't). 

Use; how on earth could this be represented in a game, let alone in a Paracosm? Is there a way to deliberately make emergent knowledge from the Paracosm deliberately near-causal? As in the ‘rules of nature’, can be learned, and will work, 90% of the time, but 10% of the time they will go slightly or very strange, just enough to indicate that you do not, and cannot, understand the actual truth, which will always be beyond your reach? 

To actually work in an imagined world perhaps some endlessly-recursive and maddening ‘yes-but’ system could be devised in which specific natural laws work as discovered, until.. some particular status or condition has been achieved. Then they work like that in that condition… until some other quite rare status takes place.. which would be an outlier so they work still differently now, but then some other condition happens… 

The aim here would be to create the deliberate sense of reason and nature endlessly and frustratingly slipping away from you, never into full incoherence, always with the illusion that you can understand if you just go a little further, but pursuit of this illusion itself drives you to madness.


We Cannot Understand the Other 

I feel this most from Roadside Picnic and Solaris, it feels very eastern European in origin, though Ballard, Harrison and Vandermeer have done versions with their own moral and emotional tonality. But at least in the Slavic originals; all the power of human reason and organised effort is put into understanding The Zone or The Alien, and we just can’t. We are inherently incapable of comprehending what we are experiencing. In ‘Roadside Picnic’ we can just grub about for semi-comprehended fragments left behind as they were useless to their creators, in ‘Solaris’ all humanities efforts result in, for a moment, something like the equivalent of a lab rat managing to scream in pain and the scientist withdrawing the probe in something that might be sympathy. 

This interrelates somewhat with ‘Powerful Indifference’ though in that case it may be that maybe we could understand the Other, but it doesn’t matter because the Other just doesn’t care enough to try. 

Use; well ‘Roadside Picnic’ and Dungeons and Dragons have prepared us for the ludic instrumentalisation of this concept with the idea of ‘useful but incomprehensible object’, a thing which might do something useful in some way, but clearly wasn’t intended for that, and also does a lot of other weird shit as well.


Consciousness is a malign virus 

From damn who the fuck is that guy? The horror writer who thinks life is a conspiracy against the human race? I have never actually read him. Anyway he thinks the experience of consciousness itself is torture and to live is an act of horror. We can throw in Peter Watts Blindsight which plays with the idea that consciousness is a kind of malign virus, or fail state or disease upon otherwise well-working brains. 

Use; perhaps perfected unconscious warriors? Sleeping warriors? A warband leader their mind replaced with clicking clockwork, immune to stress and fear but producing strategies and tactics like an ‘A.I.’ card deck for something like Kingdom Death. (It should be obvious by now that Eschat Jihad would be a relatively noncompetitive arty/hipster wargame for people as interested in playing against themselves and the rules as each other, and probably for campaign play for those who want to find out what horrors and time loops happen to each Warband.)


Kjell Daniel-Francisco


Fake Realities – Immaterial Edition 

Reality can be Raped 

From Fehervari and from Grant Morrison, reality violations; where characters and general situations remain in place but reality itself decays and changes, which we see but they can't quite sense. Meaning their world, their entire timeline, from beginning to end, gets progressively worse and they can emotionally percieve this but not reason their way out of it. 

Use; this would be a frankly insane thing to put in a game of any kind let alone a wargame. How could you do it? It would mean triggering something and some kind of games master would come in and just make everything awful and worse, and change even the background of characters as well as their current situation, and the characters and playing pieces would not be aware of this, except they might have some emotional recognition, but the players would… Perhaps this would work as a kind of nuclear weapon, an unleash-the-demon element employed either deliberately or accidentally? It might have to be a once-a-campaign thing. 

Reality Decay 

We can maybe add to it the concept of 'Reality Decay', where what is normal and causal seems to blend imperceptibly into the other-natural. This is probably most clearly shown in horror movies in which nearly all are based around a very-normal-maybe-sinister early bit and then the gradual introduction of an horrifically malevolent alteration to reality. What I'm trying to capture here isn't the 'there are hidden monsters' vibe, or even 'there are dark other powers' vibe of Hellraiser, but a more nebulous, formless, near-madness in which the very engines of cause and effect seem to be broken. Sometimes this is actual madness, sometimes demons, sometimes the Matrix fugueing, sometimes conspiracy. I can't think off the top of my head of a story where the horror has no source and no shape but exists only. 

Use? Man the dice are rolling backwards.. Maybe some semi-random alteration to the dice or other decision system that frets or inverts the results? Its hard to systematise the formless.


The Enemy are Editing the Text 

If we bring in Warhammers chaos gods then we can include malevolent extra-causal entities, who are simultaneously present at all points of the timeline and can 'edit' the story - to some extent, to produce their preferred forms of suffering. 

Use; I cannot think of any sane way to include this in a wargame unless perhaps allowing the players to mess with the metadata after a campaign?


Fake Realities – Material Edition 

From the great well of schitzoid-adjacent horror, from the Shaver Mythos to the Matrix and similar films of its era, to Comics like 'Saramis' where an entire city is a physically simulated stage set for one man, to the Truman Show, we have; 

It’s a simulation 

It’s the Matrix, the 13th Floor or similar. 

Curious thing about the Matrix; the majority of the people in it are real living embodied humans, when they ‘die in the game, they die in real life’. So, how real do you want something to be in order for it to count as ‘real’? 

Its Dero mind control machines 

Evil forces under the earth using super-technology to invisibly tilt the nature of society in their preferred manner. The ultimate untraceable outside corruption. Add memory alteration to taste. 

It’s a literal Stage Set 

In ‘Saramis’ an entire city is a literal mechanical moving backdrop, only a few places actually have interiors, most of the people are automata. You can get up on top of the stage sets and run along them. 

Use; the deeply physical and embodied nature of the deception lends it a tantalising aspect to me. 

The Truman Show is another physicalised fiction-in-fiction story of this kind with the conspiracy-victim on an actual stage set. 

The metaphor of theatre, and of theatre interweaving and overlapping reality is something that might be usable in  a game or wargame; cults and societies of theatre-like ‘players’ (40ks Harlequins are already this), grand physical deceptions and ‘plays’ put on by deranged structures of power, actors and those playing a role intermixing with those doing something ‘for real’. The structure and aesthetics of performance being counterpointed to ‘actual’ conflict. That  might be something that the already exiting five or so act structure of wargames, and their highly rules and ritual-based arrangement could actually help to bring about. It’s already the case that armies ‘perform’ differently, Ork armies going for a turn-two Waaaagh! in an assumed five-turn game, Dark Eldar used to have a ‘power from pain’ rule that made them nastier the more losses they took, Necrons popping back up unless you kill the whole squad, etc etc. I feel like there should be something there, though I can’t see it yet. 

Its Robot Rape 

I’m thinking of ‘I Have No Mouth but I Must Scream’ mainly, though there may be other forms I don’t know about. This story has some ‘Fake Reality’ deception I think, but only as part of a larger goal of specifically inflicting as much suffering as possible for as long as possible Here the hyper-powerful entity is usually non-human but still material and within the same causality. 

Use; Is there much that AM does in ‘I have no mouth’ that a reasonably wealthy King or Sultan couldn’t have done to a small select group? Some of the more extreme memory alteration, bodymorphing and resurrections sure but I could easily see a gothic story with an AM-like Sultan or King or Pope having a sadistic super-labyrinth made and getting to watch a select group of victims be endlessly tortured. There might be something there again, with the deep physicality of the idea. 

I suppose the ‘Saw’ franchise is built on this kind of thing. 


Deep Time Horror


Calum Diggle - Humanity Lost

Cursed Understanding of History 

There is also the idea that the simple action of history, when perceived across too deep a stretch of time is essentially horrific to the human mind, becoming more so when one mind becomes inexorably aware of the consequences of their own actions in a way that cannot be denied or avoided. 

I’ve often considered it fortunate that people are both quite ignorant and quite unimaginative when it comes to consideration of History as very deep views of whatever the engines of history are tend to leave me with the feeling of, at best, systems with an utter indifference, or ‘orthogonal’ to human suffering or morality, yet from which we all inevitably descend. In particular, ‘demicide’ involving male extinction and mass female rape, which forms the basis of modern European genetics, and how many more are there of like kind, stretching deeper and deeper back into history, crime upon crime? 

Use; a key element of this seems to be a ‘loss of faith’, in a manner similar to Lovecrafts guys finding out they have gypsy blood or the physicists of 3-Body finding out science isn’t real. It’s hard to have the gradual or dawning horror of realisation if you have no strong pre-existing beliefs that sustain your world. 

An advantage of a game/wargame like Eschat-Jihad is that all the factions have really extremely strong beliefs and particular points of view, and they can all be wrong somehow and therefore go mad with the terrible truth of the Universe. Not only that but some are from the future and some from the past so they can each find out some terrible thing about either how they came to be, or how they end up, and so go crazy about that. There must be a way to gamify that somehow. Hopefully without just adding ‘faith points’. 

If I was going to use a ‘certainty’, ‘faith’ mechanic, it would have to be something other than basic morale, it should only be able to be altered by scenario-specific events, should only go down, and steal a trick from the OSR and instead of just lower points add to each reduction a madness, behaviour or fetishtic action that leader or character has to perform in certain circumstances.


The Origins of Life and Humanity are malign 

From Lovecraft and I suppose from Alien: Covenant, the origins of life being, worse than accidental, some kind of weapons test or laboratory runoff or malign experiment. (Though I think in ‘Covenant’ the experiment was not specifically malign but the general tone of the film made it seem like it was). 

This hits a lot less hard in a post-Christian West where very few people think we are the product of divine creation so the loss of such doesn’t hurt much. Still there may be possibilities in the concepts of someone coming back to ‘harvest’ humanity, of being deliberately ‘made wrong’, with life on Earth being an accidental biproduct of an inherently flawed process and then in the sci fi future we discover that we are from the only planet where that happened and in fact humanity, and all of earths life, has the equivalent of Downs Syndrome, and that this is inherent to the nature of our evolution; we can’t escape it, and every other space borne life form is ‘correct’ or the product of some more perfect and fruitful system. 

Use;man is an inherently inferior species’; there must be some way for me to use this.


Calum Diggle - Humanity Lost


Biologically Instrumentalised Posthumanity in forms horrific and degraded to us. 

From Diggle, and perhaps Geiger, we have a decayed and horrific Posthumanity re-made, (wait, who made 'Man after Man'?) into bestial or horrific instrumentalised forms. Diggle has whole bio-hive worlds with everything made from human-derived flesh. Geiger weaves the human form with Biomechanoid horrors. (I guess the Matrix pod-people work for this too). 

Use; these guys could definitely go in the game. An horrific posthumanity could be anything from fauna to flora to buildings to a sufaction, to riding beasts for other groups that don’t know they are riding their own descendants/ancestors. They would go well with the ‘Hordes of Causality’ faction.


Claude-Joseph Vernet's - The Storm

No Classification 

Powerful Indifference 

Clark-Ashton Smith did one little-regarded story which was basically a Roalnd Emmerich film where Aliens arrive to terraform the world according to their liking, and do. Humanity fights back but fails and the world is gradually consumed and transformed into a wonderous but nightmarishly toxic and dangerous environment. We can add that story about Aliens who take over earth & don't really notice us & humanity ends up living like space rats in their giant machinery. There is a slight difference in inflection in these stories in that they are less about the fundamental incapability of humanity to understand the aliens, since in many of these stories we don’t get the chance, but simply that the Other is so powerful on contact that anything we can do is just irrelevant. We can’t communicate and they wouldn’t care even if we could.   

Use; there are mighty THINGS. You can barely see their feet. They are doing stuff specific to them.


Aibek Begalin

Hidden Sin/Degraded Blood/Syphilis horror 

I'm trying to avoid Lovecraft here because he is the dominant force but I suppose I shouldn't bother. Lovecraft had a kind of ‘miscegenation’ horror where the Anglo finds out they have Fish ancestors, this leading into madness and physical mutation, (though also a connection with the dark sacred truth of Reality). 

This doesn’t play quite the same way with a modern audience though I suppose later versions include the more-pure body-horror of Cronenberg where much of the terror comes from physical mutation.

Use; other than just mutating people I got nothing on this one. I guess mutations are always good, good for modelers and a kitbashing community.


Jason Shiga 

The Jason Shigaverse. I have only read 'Meanwhile' a multiple choice comic book masquerading as a kids story with a background so dark its clear none of the bougie reviewers fully understood it, and 'Demon' about a battle between a person/being who discovers they have the ability to hop bodies on death (their mind devours and annihilates that of the closest person), vs the World Government. In 'Meanwhile', depending on what choice they make the Protagonist discovers that a previous version of themselves already annihilated humanity except for them and uses a time machine to 'loop' themselves millions of times, 'filling in' every role and person again, till the world is full once more. So everyone in his world, has always been him. I suppose this includes transhumanism, time loops and reality being a malign/beneficent stage set. Also; you already lost before you walked in the door and everything you are seeing is a bandaid over your nightmare failure.


Samuel Arya


What Have We Got? 

·        Bill & Ted cursed time gifts system with a spiralling cost.

·        A geography made to allow a ‘passing into strangeness’ (I did a whole list of qualities above, not going to repeat it here.)

·        Possibly recursive of incoherently failing ‘natural laws’ (which probably means core game mechanics).

·        Arguably useful but fundamentally incoherent ‘magic items’ which you never understand which probably can’t be understood by human minds.

·        Replace your leaders brain with a Kingdom Death A.I. card system. Even you don’t know what you will do.

·        Reality Rape extra-causal nuke option; make everything worse for everyone, and always have been worse.

·        Theatre cults, theatre-type scenery and performance-based faction rules.

·        Evil Magic Sultan sadism labyrinths along with I guess the guy from ‘Saw’. Powerful sadists arranging impossible moral and personal tests could be a thing.

·        Everyone can lose their faith or certainty and go more and more crazy.

·        ‘Man is the Least of All things.’

·        Horrific Poshumanity; they’re the trees, they’re the hills! They’re the buildings! They’re the ground. They also turn up in some factions. Also they are also you from the future or past!

·        There are mighty THINGS in the distance, the ocean, the earth, the sky.

·        People get mutated and altered a lot.

·        Jason Shiga is somehow involved.

Piotr Ruszkowski