Wednesday, 10 August 2022

The Goblin Polychronicon

 What is written in green ink on the golden pages of the Grand Goblin History?

The Goblin Polychronicon: a treasure outside Time. A hyper-possible text telling the true story of the Goblins and their origins, their meaning and their end.

No exact translation has ever been written though a thousand partial commentaries exist. 

The core tome itself, split into an indeterminate number of physical volumes, (an odd number likely between eight and thirty two), is no sooner found than lost. Easy to acquire, (for the Goblins are always losing or selling one volume or more), but hard to retain, (for the Goblins always steal it back when the moon is full), many brief commentaries on the Goblin Polychronicon have been written, but none of them agree.


Well; any single volume may simply be a fake, the goblins themselves love making fakes of their own work and, being Goblins, often get them mixed up with the original. Notwithstanting that, the Goblin Polychronicon itself is a many-stranded and circular text, with alternate histories, counterfactuals, encoded allegories and outright fantasies included and commented on, and that each of these is spread across multiple volumes, linked through capacious appendicies, subtexts and fold-out diagrams, AND that the whole thing is written in multi-layered Goblin Code, and that the text itself has perhaps been infiltrated by some green goblin mycellium which mimics the shapes of Goblin words ((though some say the fungi follows the tracks of invisible ink left on the page and thence highlights meaningful secrets themselves to be combined with visible Goblin Knowledge in order to reveal yet more perspacious truths) and yet still others claim the fungal strands, gobin-natured as they are, bloat themselves on half-truths and misperceptions encoded in the Goblin Text and thence provide cunning guidance on how not to read the Polychronicon), and and as also as well we must not forget that the history of Goblins is a history of LIES and that much of the Polychronicon consists of the development of lies and the meta-structure of deceptions developed and sustained by Goblin Ontology and also that large parts of it may be made up. Maybe the whole thing is made up, who knows?

NO! The Goblin Polychronicon IS TRUE and is a real book about real things. History attests to this! It is absolutely not a scam and my lawyers can confirm. 


Deep in the Umber Eon the ever-famed Ranulph de Goblyn, first and last chief librarian at the catastrophically ruined Goblin Pig Library heeded the summons of the Goblin King to work thereon unto "an history of thee tails & seeds of or peeple". Accepting a bonk from the purple stave Ranulph began work on the Goblin Polychronicon in "due tyme", finally and fatally passing the work on to his descendants upon the breaching of the citrus dawn.

Of course modern historians recognise that the Ranulph identity was  merely a nom de plume, probably representing a cabal or circle of Goblins who recorded the Goblin Polychronicon first through transcribing the oral histories of the Goblins, then when he (they) realised these could not be relied on, by developing time travel and returning to witness the events in question, then on unfortunately accidentally altering these events and encountering parallel versions of him her or themselves trapped in varieties of time loop, gave up on the whole thing, travelling into their (or his) her own future and stealing a copy of the Goblin Polychronicon from his fututre self (or selves), copying it quickly in a phone booth and using that as a base, making up the rest, then, on then contracting Bubonic Boils and realising he-they whomever will never live to become the future self(ves) from whom he can steal the book, imploring his(their) descendants to take on their aspect and essentially cosplay as him (or them) to make sure the time loop does not collapse, BUT! at the same time insisting that the trickery of the "false Ranulph" makes the veracity of the Goblin Polychronicon suspect and that they (or just he) should carefully check and edit every aspect of it while they (the descendant(s)) still have the time, which they both do and do not have due to the aforementioned loops.


The Volumes of the Goblin Polychronicon are split into several odd-numbered groups of odd-numbered books, separated by the likelihood of them being simply made up. All of the volumes are Histories, in a sense, though they are all also something else as well, often being made up of encyclopaedias, instruction books, recipe books, biographies, puzzle books, chemical equations, spells, sigils, paint splatters, diagrams, 'information', cartoons and so on, with the historical information wovel through and explicated via these mediums, and all of these themselves explained and elucidated via subtitles, indexes, references, bibliographies, marginalia, fingerprints, food stains, the afrorementioned fungal infiltration etc.

We begin with the five initial, almost-certainly real volumes;

The True Polychronicon

Volume One - The Goblins and How They Were Known
(Contains knowledge of Schemes)

Volume Three - The Ripe Ones in their First Feeling
(Speaks much of Pigs)

Volume Five - Lords of the Green Moon
(an encyclopaedia of Tricks)

Volume Seven - The Gold Bell Chimes
(A digression on Thieving, Theft and Thefts)

Volume Minus-One - Thee Hydden Ceekrets of Thee Polygoblinomicon
(A philosophical tome on Conceptual Recursiveness and Trapped Thoughts)

The Second Addendum

The 'Second Addendum' (actually (probably) the first) is made up of three volumes which might be real be who knows really. They are;

Volume Nine -  The Grand Reversal
(Stars, Moonshadows, the Moon) 

Volume Eleven - The Doom Of The Gobs
(Owls, the colour Grey, Ordinary Shadows)

Volume Thirteen - The Reversal Reversed, that is Made Rightwise
(Considers only Green Shadows in a Green Land)

The Final Speaking

The 'Final Speaking' (not actually final) is made up seven books largely considered to be frauds, broken interpolations, strange translations, fantasies or mistakes. Nevertheless they do seem to act in all ways as Volumes of the Goblin Polychronicon (disposing secret knowings, causing madness and being stolen back under a full moon etc)

Volume Fifteen - How the Dooms Were Inverted 
Handwritten subtitle; Dooms2Boons inne fife symple stepps
(Escapes, Maidens, Round Animals)

Volume Seventeen - The Doom of the Quicksilver Man
(Charms, Illusions cast by Glass, Long Animals)

Volume Nineteen - The Doom of the Square Cups
(Getting into Buildings, Magical Soups, Games of Chance)

Volume Twenty-One - Green Infinity
(Impossibilities, Unlikely Reversals, Pie, Grand Strategy)

Volume Twenty Three - Thee Last Booke of thee Gobline Polychronicon
(Wild Fiddling, Weaving Fates in Golden Hair, Constructing Toys)

Volume Twenty Five - Index, Addendum and Appendicies Too Thee Laste Booke
(Princesses, Lying Flat, Smooth Beings, Squirming)

Volume Twenty-Seven - Be Thys Thee Ende? A Counterblaste To Muche-Puffed DOOMS
(Incepting Artefacts, Looking into Smooth Water, Bogs)

The Thorts and Komenterys

The 'Thorts & Komenterys', presumed to be the (actual) final grouping, is made up of three books, one of which either does not exist or cannot be named

Volume Twenty-Nine - Thee Seecret ande Final Parte In Which All CODES be Revealed
(Riding Animals Small and Large, Life with Giants, Odd Dogs)

?????? ??????-??? - ??????? ??? ??????? ???? ??? ??????? ???????
(???? ??, ??? ???????, ????? ??????????, ????, ????????, ??????)

Volume Thirty-Three - Goblinomicon, Book One, Thee Begynning
(Smelling your Way, the Pockets of Gods, Wardrobe TRAVEL etc)


"Power" might be the wrong word to use...

Reading and understanding what might be a volume, or volumes of the Goblin Polychronicon is said to reveal certain capacities or latent hidden aspects of reality in ways analogous to "spells"

In fact its said that many things now called "spells" are simply regulised & mundanified versions of transcriptions or commentaries on parts of the GOblin Polychronicon.

Get hold of a Volume and study it for as long as you can, (usually this involves decoding/translating it by the light of the moon, often aided by mushrooms and mushroom concoctions) before selling it off or getting rid of it before the next full moon lest the Goblins steal more than they might when they steal it back, for they have been known to make of with more than just the book itself, to whit, the name of its holder, their children or child, their shadow, the hair, the holes of their nose, the small bones of the ear.

Book Covers from here

Monday, 1 August 2022

Prescience Wars 10 - The Ouroboros Kin

Previous Entries;

1. The Children of the Amber Lords

Long has the Amber Court ruled in silence but for the slow chiming of bells, and what decadence results! And wealth! Prognosticators ruling from silent workshops riding chariots of gold! Near half-gods, a parliament of prophets. And how changed those who served them, for those who serve prophets must learn to live without doubt, decision, expectation or despair. As it is written, so shall it be.
And of their children who shall be our rulers hertobe. Those raised by the court in and its ways, born knowing their future and  educated in thereby, born unlike other mortals, even those who first formed the court, for _they_ were raised amidst us, amongst the unknowing, and though they see much, much is unseen.
And how shall it be if the Court predicts not only predicted lives but the lives of those who are raised _knowing those predictions_, raised by those who also know them.
In our own lives even the doomed can hope, and hope up until the last, blindly, feverish, relentless; that curse and blessing which allows us to endure the unendurable, but these children of the Amber Court must live without hope. They know full well what they will endure, and when, and when life will break them, and if it can. All hopes will be fruitless to them and all dooms pre-known.
Their morality will not and cannot be that of mortal men, though mortal they are.
[Fragment of ‘The Wounds of the Unknowing’, recovered in the 8th crusade. Believed to be of Amberist origin in the Late Amber Court years.]

2. On The Origins of Things

from where does a personality come, when it has been predicted long in advance?
The rulers of the Amber Court were not fools, they were intimate familiars with the concept of the returning feed, of 'thread tension' - of the flowing timeless interaction between the situation, the prediction and the steps taken to arrange it.
For if an army advances, and a prediction says 'they shall be turned back through such-and-such a method', and the method is employed - then where was it devised? Was it born ex-nihilo in the conjunctions of the world? Imported from some unknown strand? Hermetically self-born?
If a prediction says; "this person here shall learn of this prediction and thereby go mad and lose their reason, and shall die by fire", if they then learn of this prophecy and believe it, is the sheer weight and terror of the prophecy itself the ultimate factor in their madness, and then their death? For if no prophecy had been made, would they then have gone mad? or being sensitive, have suffered some lesser trauma or calamity, or none?
Conversely if a prophet says; "Go here at this time and you shall be happy in such a way, and your plans and dreams will end well in this way and that", and the listener does go and is happy in the manner shown, was this shaped by the prediction itself? Or would the subject have been such a person to shape a good life even without such knowledge? Or would it have been a less-perfect life? And is the resulting person truly 'good' for they decided only to follow the voice of the prediction - from where did the goodness come? And was it intensified by the voice of the prophet? Or limited? Or did it make no difference at all?
Always to predict is to shape, whether knowing or unknowing, and the corde predicted is a corde _in which the prediction is made_. It cannot be otherwise for never can a prognosticator say “I shall see now a future in which I make no predictions.”
All this the Preceptors of Glass knew well enough.
What perhaps they could not truly know, even if told, was the cumulative weight of this paradox upon a culture.
The paradox first, deepened, with one seer predicting the fate of another, and that seer predicting yet another fate from within their own seer-shaped _courde_, and the paradox _spread_, with the servants of the Amber Court increasingly certain of the verity of predictions, trained and experienced in their fulfilment and even raised from youth in full knowledge of them.
What must it have been to be raised in a culture of prophets and prophecies, themselves shaped by still older prophets. What would it mean to disagree in such a culture? To take an order or not take one?
What will be will be.
[From ‘In the Memories of Stars’, recovered from the ruins of Samaris.] 

3. The Unspeakable Nobility

If they have names these may not be spoken, or even for some, imagined. The power of their King is on them and within them and as His name may now be known or recorded so neither may theirs. How they know each other we cannot tell. Perhaps they simply remember.

The Blind Sage

who speaks deep knowledge which has no origin
yet will at times randomly and purposely slay those around them
a solver of unsolvable problems
a maker of impossible devices and fountain of physical lore and technique
who understands none of it
but only remembers it, or knew that he would speak it
recalls it from the future
bent in horror at the emptiness of his own understanding
and the truths which come "from nowhere" from darkness
as if passed down a chain of annihilated selves

The Fool

a spirit of chaos and uncatchable monster
perhaps driven mad by the prediction of their own dark fate
perhaps simply a madman empowered by prescience
a terrorist, killer, criminal, manipulator, corruptor, destroyer
unkillable, uncatchable
they glory little in their greatest "crimes"
usually driven into a corner by the effects of their own plans to escape fate
a seeker for a mercy which will not, or cannot, come
waiting and praying for the ability not to kill, not to destroy

The Empty Blade

duellist of the Amber Court
skilled beyond the capacity of the mind to understand
death itself to those they face
consumed utterly by their predicted fate
given never at any time any expression of either joy or fear
takes no pleasure and no shame in any victory
like a ghost wearing the skin of a man
the horror of their presence so great that the rumour their attention can end wars

The Queen of Air and Darkness

She who would rebel against fate
a magician of unequalled ability,
one fit to bend the world
seeking always and to attempt with every breath and action to defeat and overthrow prophecy
and never succeeding
yet to never giving in
a breaker of realities wrapped in invisible chains herself
who hurls herself against the boundaries of impossibility
a wreaker of chaos and much change in the lives of others

The Dancer

they who play games with time
bringing strange chaos
turning events upon a pin-head
always to paths unexpected to all but them
dancing with time
what their motivations are, whether they embody fate or fight against it, none know
for who they perform, for others or themselves, who can say
they run along times cutting edge, in times and places where to live is to dance upon a burning sword
appearing where nothing should be
moving through fire and chaos like a smiling ghost

The Lady Of Sorrows

she who grieves for all she could not change
unable to alter what she fears she sets herself to at least feel in full
to live truly with the knowledge
and to embody herself in the moment - to be present
to live
a goddess of no mercy, but recognition at least
a tomb-queen wreathed in flowers, bent beneath the weight of infinite names

The Player of the Silver Pipes

a lord of knights and holder of oaths
called a witnesser of truth – he of the silver bough
he pipes the turns of beauty-in-fate
a guardian and exemplar of moments
as lively as the dancer
feared as the blade
present as the lady
he makes the music of strange times
[Believed to be Neo-Pathist Samidzat. Printed text used as binding for a history of The Time of Three Teasons – exact age and origin unknown.]

4. “Calm were the Children”

Deep was the calm of the children of the Amber Court, as deep as the sea, and deep was their rage, for they lived not as characters in a story who saw not the page, nor as the writers of tales who compassed a corde from beginning and end, shaping it at will, but their lives were lived halfly, between those two, knowing more of their corde than the hero in a tale, often more than even the wise can guess at, but much less than the shaper.
[Oldest recoverable statement discovered when researching the popular lullaby “Calm were the Children, Calm as the Sea”. This fragment found only as a reference in a sheet of music dated to about 55YS, itself a copy of an earlier document. It is not clear if this reference is itself a replication of an earlier statement or an interpolation or addition at the time of scribing. Whatever text it refers to is lost.]

5. Where Lies Meaning?

Where the value and the meaning in life is found not in choices made or in driving towards any particular goal, but in the nature and the quality of the experience as it happens. In being present in the moment, in fully experiencing that particular moment and in understanding its meaning as one recognises part of a tale that has been already told, where both the beginning and the end are already known, if vaguely, some lost to memory and some predicted but unclear, and so the matter of a life becomes not - what will happen - but what is the meaning of this happening, what does it feel like to be here, now, present at this time and in this time, and how does this reflect and react with all of my memories and all of my prophecies
What would be your own reaction to the advanced knowledge of your own life? Knowing it could not be changed. That everything, including everything you hated, was a consequence of your own choices, and that when you reached the point of decision, even a decision you hated in advance, you would freely choose as predicted, that it could not be otherwise?
[From "The Dharma of Care", by Priest-Viscount Apsanalan, Scrolls 600 to 965  concerning the Late Amber Court Wars.]

6. An Imperfect Metaphor

to understand the Ouroboros Kin one must imagine a human personality unspooled, like a tight rope bound with grease and wax, pulled taught and tense through long hard use, bathed in the softest waters and gentle allowed to unravel, the curls and windings of its hairs spread this way and that,
each thread of this slowly unspooling rope as it floats in its perfumed bath decided by its placement and compression in the original bound flax.
[Fragment from the ‘Onerologicon’, assumed first written around 33YS. Popular scholarship makes its writer the esteemed ‘Ranulph of Cheem’, though there is no textual proof that such a single writer existed and many claim evidence of multiple writers. This part left within an excised copy as a fragment of parchment, all other pages of this section removed, presumably by the Ordos. No such section exists in any modern copy or equivalent historical document.]

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Speak, False Machine

 Good news! Demon-Bone Sarcophagus is finally stumbling to a close. Files are away to the printers (though there will likely be feedback on those) and PDF editor, fees have been paid and though there may be delays with fulfilment which stop shipping until October, the book will actually definitely be made.

Bad News - I am utterly fuuuuuuucked financially.

Blame Putin. 

Also my own financial and organisational failings, VotE going out of print, our map-maker disappearing for several months without any contact, general slowness and the book being roughly eight months over my assumed timetable leading to print costs rising 40% between our first quote and our final one.

Tis truly a glorious disaster in every respect other than that the book will actually exist.

Yet the spice must flow and the end of one book means only the beginning of another. As one book is born another is already conceived, so I shall tell you now about my plans for 'Speak, False Machine', a substantial tome which will hopefully not bankrupt me (more).


test print only

Is essentially a (near) complete record of the first ten years of the False Machine blog.

"Near" because I removed anything I thought was pretty bad and anything that appeared in a different form in other books, or that is expected to appear in future books. So much of the development posts for things like FotVH and VotE won't be there.

Still its... substantial, at least in its test print version. A crown-quarto hardback with around 650 pages and half a million words.

space marine for scale

Know peace because it is not simply a chronological cut and paste with every post in order. Instead they are arranged by subject;

History of the Blog - "event" posts, these are actually arranged chronologically.

On Games; I do (or did) occasionally write about game design, broken down into 'Adventures', 'Characters', 'Gaming Culture', 'Making Adventures', 'Play', 'Time', 'Tools', and 'Worlds'.

False Readings; fiction and short stories, there were a handful of these.

Uncertain Worlds; more on the side of world building rather than just world design, 'Chivalric Encounters', 'Cryogenic Rats', 'Knights of Mars', 'Modern Heroes/Modern Monsters' and  'Fantastic Lands'.

I Read a Book; I write about the books I read, 'Culture', 'Comics', 'Fiction', 'Games', 'History' and 'Nature'.

Cryptoculture; my cultural ramblings, broken down into 'Film', 'Marvel', 'Miscellanea', 'Star Trek', 'Television', 'Warhammer' and 'Weebery'.

And finally 'Kleinplastik' where I talk about sculpture largely through the lens of minis.


I am aiming for a black and white print to keep costs down. 

There are three main kinds of art in the book. The first is made up of diagrams and small illustrations which illuminate descriptions or just fill odd spaces. There are about 50 of these.

There are extensive images in the 'Kleinplastik' section, this is the only part here I worry about not having colour as many of the arguments interrelate more with colour. I was half-thinking about having a central 'photographic' section like you used to see in old books, depending on the cost.

And finally there are eight 'title pages' which I have left blank. My hope is that through the Kickstarter I can maybe get B&W images from actually-famous artists. I was hoping for Ian Miller, Killian Eng, maybe Adrian Smith? We will see I suppose.


Promises to be _less_ of a nightmare than most D&D books as, compared to a gaming book, a normie book is easy mode, but still quite hard due to the sheer volume of text. 


I am leaving the blog posts as they were written partly for authenticity, partly because of the huge difficulty of editing the actual contents and partly because even if I did "even them out" with spelling and layout a lot of the life and particularity of some of the more odd posts would be lost.

HOWEVER - I do want an index for the book, and considering the capacious range and strangeness of the contents that looks to be a very difficult project.


I will need;

- A layout person.
- An editor willing to take on the insane requirements of the Index.
- Someone to do black and white diagrams and small illustrations.

If anyone wants to volunteer hit me up in the comments or my email pjamesstuart at Work would be paid for via Kickstarter, which won't run till late in this year, depending on when DBS can ship out. Experience and a proven record of not being a flake is important as I can't live through the utter chaos of my last project again. Considering who I am immunity or indifference to being cancelled may be useful.


Saturday, 23 July 2022

The Makers Hand

Things have reached the point where we should probably develop some kind of classification system to describe the amount of cyberneticisation in the things we make.

This was brought to a head for me be the recent explosion in Dall-E art and others, and by a post by Chris McDowall where he shows some A.I. generated art and talks about its possible use in products.

A fair amount of OSR creations have used archive art or altered historical images, and A.I. art feels like it would fit right into that space. 

This made it clear to me that this is not a 'thing to think about' but something happening right now. It’s pretty clear that we have already reached the point where human beings are in the act of 'putting ourself out of business'. 

This concept of a classification system describing how 'Hand-Made' and how 'System-Generated' something is, is intended partly as a protection for human creators as the power of A.I. s grows and partly to help us manage the conflict and synthesis between the two cultures as they develop.

The moral weight of the difference between the two modes is very great and I imagine will probably intense swings and cultural counter-reactions each against the other. Hopefully, possibly, having a clear idea of what we are talking about will help us at least navigate this process.


There are sound reasons for the use of A.I. content in productions, an A.I.O.S.R.;

- We are all the children of cybernetics. D&D has always been poised between the polarities of a cottage industry and a centralised system. The O.S.R. has a complex relationship with cybernetics already. The movement and products would not be possible without huge web of very cheap communication (effectively free intercontinental video calls) file transfers, international fundraising and production for even small creators. 

- Specifically in the artpunk-adjacent world, there is a taste for weird alienating imagery which programmes like Dall-E seem to do well.

- Many, (most), creators are poor. If they can produce beautiful art to go with their stuff easily and for free, do we have a right to stop them?

- Same applies when the textual Dall-E arrives. When a human artist can command a story or situation be generated based on their art.

- Creators are frustrating and expensive to deal with.

The best argument for A.I. production is the most subtle and the hardest to maintain;

- We don't know what might happen. It’s an experiment. The future is not only dark. It provides threats to the nature and expression of humanity, but it does not provide only threats. The experiment should be allowed and in fact will go ahead whether we like it or not so we may as well manage it.


The arguments against A.I. content should be intuitively and immediately obvious to anyone but I will state them explicitly;

- We are engineering ourselves out of the system. producing a culture which has a cornucopia for the things we want, but no place for us.

- Its use will impoverish visual artists. The O.S. has been oddly good at keeping artists fed, for a movement of people with a range of personality disorders.

- It could lead to the destruction of art, art skills and independent vision. (I think this is possible but unlikely as I intuit there will be massive counter-reaction once people fully sense what is going on).

- The destructive power of the counter-reaction. Total eschewal of A.I. development, or a frustrating unenlightening and resource intensive cultural war between the two cultures. I think is actually more likely. I can imagine very easily people screaming at each other and shaming each other over using the "wrong art" and either "betraying humanity" or being "slaves to the past" and its this uncreative trench warfare that I think we have a chance of avoiding by thinking about it ahead of time.


This is the real tricky part. the current emotional and cultural need is for a symbol and concept which delineates that over here you will find A.I. derived art, but over here you will find human-only art.

Lets try this to start with;


Anarcho-Primitivism. A rare but not impossible situation with *only* direct human action used - a dungeon scribed on handmade paper in handmade ink.

Or more realistically - printed on to handmade or recovered paper with handmade block printing.

(Some of these may seem _unlikely_ but please don't be frustrating in the comments, try to imagine a society a generation or more deep into the situation we see now with Dall-E and its equivalents and then try to imagine the counter-reaction against that, anarcho-primitivist groups are not that strange a possibility.)

"Attempted-Zero", "aimed-zero" or "Zero-minimal" is more likely as in a high tech society making stuff without any tech influence, even in the acquisition of materials, would be very hard.


19th and early 20th century industrial technology, printing presses etc, slide rules and blueprints, but without the internet.

I think this is actually less likely than attempts at Zero productions. People deliberately attempting near medieval construction maybe, but the idea of people deliberately attempting 19th/early 20th century construction seems strange to me, but may not seem so in the future.


Late 20th/early 21stC production methods.

It’s our current world! Hello! Here are used the cybernetic communication and arrangement technology we are currently familiar with - email file transfers, computer programmes etc but with all content generated by human beings, the cybernetics acting as assistants to that.


Then we cross over into deep 21stC methods. Our current moment. Anything Level Three or above will have specifically A.I. generated content - not just AI aid in creation. Art and words which no human hand has touched.


We don't really know and can't predict what might happen there but there is a lot of space to expand into?


We could reverse the order and use the symbol of the hand with the 'level' being the number of fingers held down.

The anarcho-primitivist Class Zero product would have a full, spread hand. (Like the white hand of Saruman).

The industrial but not computer-based Class One production would have the thumb down and four fingers spread.

Our current standard of cybernetic aided Class Three production would have the three central fingers spread.

A.I. generated Class Four production would have the two forefingers.


(Also I realise there are already lots of symbols for 'handmade' but I wish we had some that were less twee)


Its more pleasing and less depressing to imagine a meaningful cultural interchange between cultures Two and Three, artists and. creators moving back and forth, observing each others work etc.

We don't really know how human art will react to the presence of AI art. When photography began to take off, it seems to have had a huge but unpredictable effect, perhaps being a main driver of modernism.

when a human artist grows up in a world of common AI art, what art will they themselves make? We don't know but can expect a re-contextualisation of what art means, why we do it e.t.c.


Since this seems like a relatively sane and good idea I expect that someone else has already had it. I expect you to notify me about that in the comments.

(Along with all your points about how my proposed system lacks discretion and detail. Propose your own systems!)

Friday, 15 July 2022

Adventures in the Kingdom of the Worm

 Long and low do lie the breathless rulers of the Kingdom of the Worm. Treasures they have and infinite time besides in a sunless realm where the nitre-tainted gold is black and the bronze so tarnished that it makes the only green in this lifeless demesne other than the phosphorescence of mycelia that bloom in wonder from the spiced limbs of long embalmed kings..

What can they desire that they may not attain? These pharaonic hierarchs who, while their flesh still blossomed, through it held, consumed and soaked-in every luxury and beat down every conquest, wounded only by their weight of crowns?

Youth perhaps, memories, the truth of long-forgotten arguments, night-blooming flowers. The Kingdom of the Worm is a land with no respect for life but much for memory, for everything has already happened in the past. Lightless, but not lifeless for here come Gem-Cutters, Feather merchants, Moth sellers Spice-Traders, Perfumiers, Embalmers, Drummers, (for one feels a drum-beat in one bones), Historians, Poets, and also adventurers, to be paid in prehistoric gems and fat gold coins stained black as coal which fall leaden from the bone fingers or Emperors unremembered in the oldest books, for the dead too have their strange desires, and will pay well for their fulfilment, in those brief eons of remembrance and selfhood which come ever more rarely in the long half-sleep of the immortal dead.

1. "A tune of my lost youth, played on great bronze bells."

Neither the bells nor the tune currently exist, travel, magic, scholarship and some exhumation would be required to research and re-make them.

2. "The skulls of each of my ten greatest foes I slayed while I still took breath."

(Some are kings in tombs, one a giants, one a demons, one a dragons skull, one utterly lost and one reanimated and actually belongs to another currently-active Skeleton Lord).

3. "A gift delivered to an old friend." 

(They are royal and long dead, gift involves a 'tombception', breaking in to a sacred tomb in order to leave something in the sarcophagus, rather than take something away.)

4. "I have neglected for .. a century? or two too long, the seals on the circle of Azalranbromith, the demon of the 9th level and my ancient foe and slave, whom I left encircled by charms and sigils in the dungeons of such-and-such a place. Those seals must be renewed lest the creature become bothersome."

(This is going to need child blood of some kind and probably the person who seals it will be trapped inside, that's what happened last time. Also this ancient dungeon now lowest level of a ruined and monster-haunted city etc etc.) 

5. "I recall a diverting experiment in thaumaturgy I left running in error, take thee this key and close it."

(Experiment is a wide-scale null-magic field, large city has grown up around it with a whole order of null-monks who think its divine. Also whole culture of the city is based on the effects of the Null-Field.)

6. "I remember I had a sword at some point, go and find it and being it to me."

(Sword was 'lost' Sauron style during invasion of the living world, now wielded by the head of an order of Templar knights.)

7. "I have an important secret to deliver to my living heir before I pass from existence."

(Their last living interaction was 5 centuries ago, tracing 'heir' locating them and somehow persuading them to come to the Kingdom of the Worm is going to be a problem.)

8. "I have been haunting the dreams of this child who is prophesised to destroy me and I want you to go and absolutely scare the SHIT out of them!. Don't accidentally fulfil or trigger the prophecy while you are doing it!"

(Child is that of worlds most powerful mage of light).

9. "Where is my cat? I want it I want my cat."

(Is one of maybe thousands of mummified cats in the labyrinth of the cat temple. There is also a cat god who doesn’t not like the cats being removed also probably other cat-themed challenges.)

10. "I want to try out to join one of these orders of knighthood they have these days. I will compete in a tournament in a closed helm just like in the stories, you will be my pages and make sure everything works out. (Also I want to romance a maiden heh heh heh)."

11. "I want it to be autumn here, I remember Autumn..."

(Realm is a lightless blasted wasteland of tombs with zero living trees).

12. "Take a message to my love."

(Long dead, no body, need to enter Hades get past guardian dog, ferryman, multiple rivers etc
track them down, deliver letter, wait for response, do the whole thing again on the way back).

Sunday, 10 July 2022

Trailing Corposant 9 – The Red-Eye

(Like Ahriman returning to the scene of the crime I am back on that crack. My solution to the Rubric? wait for it.. a second Rubric. Yes I am completely confident about this one also, skip to the end for the previous parts of this series).

That little voice in your head that says ‘no’.

Such a very small voice. A whisper, not enough to command or change you on its own, but perhaps enough to allow you to understand that a choice is being made, that you are making it, and that it could go another way.

Where would you be without that voice? What would have become of you? Probably each of you have met people who just didn’t have that voice at all and likely it wasn’t obvious at first that they didn’t have it.

But if it was stripped away from you, not just removed but annihilated, and you could never get it back, What then?

Magnus is unusual in the Heresy in that his story is not only over, but may have ended before we realised. I argue that ‘Magnus’ ended on Prospero and what persists beyond that is a kaleidoscope of memories and fragments of personality plotting and planning against one another, slowly coalescing into a new personality along a timetable arranged by a mad god.

It begins with high ambitions, information control, (or lies) ,and plans for a legion of psychic super-soldiers. Because if the Emperor of Mankind likes anything, he likes the idea of a legion of psychic super-soldiers. He has his little heart set on that.

But why?

What Was E-Money Planning?

Probably no form or kind of knowledge or technology was more important to control for the nascent Imperium than that of the Psyker. It was one of the few things the Mechanicum were outright banned from researching but research did go on, but only in the Imperial Household or under the Emperors more-direct control.

Early experiments with the First Legion included psychic elements and apparently didn’t go that well. The Astronomicon, the Webway project, the Ordo Sinister, the Silent Sisters, the Black Ships and soul-binding of Astropaths, all core imperial technologies and methodologies and all centred around control of psychic phenomena. As were  Primarch number 19 and the 19th legion.

The creation of the 19th Primarch in particular is a hell of a strange concept. Why create 20(.5) super-beings, all roughly equivalent in power, with some depth of specialisation but quite a lot of depth and inter-operability, some of whom had some psychic powers, though usually mono-use, and then for number 19 create not just a Psyker but a single hyperintelligent mega-powerful Psyker, a being not even slightly equivalent to its brothers in that respect, and not simply more psychically powerful but an order of magnitude more powerful. Likely the most powerful human-origin Psyker in the Galaxy other than you?

That’s a lot of eggs in one basket, or more precisely one giant fucking egg in a very frail basket. Why not divide up more psychic potential amongst the brothers so there is less risk if this single one goes nuts? (This is assuming E-Money has access to, basically a jar of pasteurised demon-juice and is doling it out piece by piece.)

It might be that mastering and controlling psychic power, and its possible negative effects, do not scale ‘normally’ i.e. a power 2 Psyker is twice as powerful as a Power 1, twice as hard to train and twice as dangerous if they freak out.

Perhaps power, ability and training capacity scale in such a way that if you are going to train a powerful psyker then you may as well train a super-powerful psyker as its going to be very hard either way. Perhaps the danger of a ‘loose’ psyker also scales in such a way that its more like a pin prick in a balloon rather than a puncture in a ships hull; you stand as much risk big as small so you may as well go for that very big egg.

Maybe making a super-powerful psyker will make them easier to find and communicate with if they get ‘lost’? 

All of this depends on what the Emperor was planning. There are three main strands of possibility but, E-money being E-Money none of these necessarily preclude the others. Each could be a possible fall-back position or deliberate provocation designed to nudge an enemy into a particular stance. One thing we know about E-Dawg and the Chaos Gods is that their plans are both massively parallel, and take place somewhat adjacent to time, so setup for a fallback to a failure can take place millennia before the failure itself is suspected.

The small-C Conservative Plan

Maybe you can take over the webway and move humanity inside and maybe you can’t but either way you will need a lighthouse and a league of demon fighters.

The Imperium of Man, having grown up around the Emperor, essentially needs a super-powered psychic at its centre. To guide the Astronimicon if nothing else and even inf things go well, to be Humanities ‘farseer’.

If you fuck up (as in fact happens), you will need someone to hold closed the hellgate now existing in the palace, maintain the Aegis, the psychic shield around the palace, plus guide the astronomicon. 
If things go well you will likely need someone to hold open and maintain the human webway, while also guiding the astronomicon (unlikely it would be totally shut down), and what else? We know about the webway, the astronomicon and the aegis but in a ‘functional’ Imperium there would probably be more roles that only a psychic powerhouse, a single individual, could fulfil.

In a ‘successful’ webway project the 19th legion would be security guards, taking on demons that tried to break in and those that attempted to take over human worlds in realspace. they would fulfil the role the Grey Knights do now – but in a somewhat more expansionist manner, teaming up with the Sisters and the Ordo Sinister to conquer the webway and fight Demons when they burst into reality out in the galaxy.

The Insanely Maximalist Plan

Invade Hell.

Its implied but never directly stated that the Emperors ambition didn’t stop with the conquest of the webway, or with anything in the material world. He thinks the ultimate problem is the Chaos Gods themselves and there are inferences that a lot of his psychic diddling about it basically the beta-test for an invasion of Hell.

The Emperors To-Do List

Move Humanity to the Webway (psychic elements at least).
Kill nearly everything else.
Starve the gods.
Guide humanities psychic development.
Keep iterating and developing null tech like the Sisters and the Ordo Sinister, along with whatever the 19th were meant to be, all headed and protected by a creature of near unequalled might.
When the gods are weak enough and you have enough psychic super-soldiers, pop into the Courts of Chaos – through a hell gate (there seem to be several knocking about) and go to war against the gods, knocking them out one by one.
Having destroyed the Chaos Gods, re-make the psychic sub-structure of the Galaxy as something more sensible and less inimical to life.

The Galaxy-Brain Plan

Set up to fail.

Of course you stole the power to make these Primarchs and super-soldiers from the Gods themselves. And you know they will be looking to fuck you over. And you know that a super-genius psychic powerhouse is going to be VERY attractive to a certain blue bird god.

And while you educate Magnus yourself over broadband, and give him loads and loads of knowledge
You never tell him directly about the gods, or about where he comes from, or exactly how you made those super-soldiers (who in this case are over-baking quite consistently).

Then one day your pet sorcerer comes home with one less eye saying he “found” knowledge in the Warp about how to stabilise his Legion.

So, if you are the Emperor, you likely know or at least suspect exactly what happened.

Then later Nikea happens and you tell Magnus to not do the one thing you made him to do, and in fact taught him to do.

Plus you know a rebellion is coming, and in fact you have planned for it (apparently not that well).
You are, essentially, dangling Magnus over shark-infested waters, waiting to see what will happen. Much like you are with all of the Primarchs. You know Chaos will be coming for them with its mind-bending crackhead Truman-show shenanigans.

Are you waiting to see which sons rebel since you know some will, and you also know that ultimately all will be challenged, in some way, at some time?

Are you actually planning for some to be eaten by Chaos as part of an even more long-term strategy? One which goes far beyond the Heresy?

In their last meeting the Emperor offers Magnus service/imprisonment, and re-acceptance, so long as he sits in the chair and lights stuff up. Magnus is wavering and asks what will happen to his Legion. E-Dawg says “those guys are tits up in a ditch but I will get you a new one”.

Magnus freaks out and fucks the fuck off.

Was this the Emperor being an autistically insane bad father or was it the specific words that would drive away Magnus and seal him directly to the fate of the 19th forever?

Bad writing, bad character or swirling meta-scheme, as with all things Heresy, you decide. 

What is it to be trapped in that plan?

Magnus wasn’t just lied to and manipulated by Tzeetch, he was lied to and manipulated by his Dad to really quite an insane degree. Maybe he wouldn’t have listened even if he was told.

“Son we are flying over the gates to hell, yes I mean literal actual hell with demons and four fucking super-satans. Yes it’s really hell, I mean it.”

Maybe the Magnus we know would have been right off into the hellmouth regardless, but it really explains why he has such a complete mental breakdown after he breaks the Emperors Wards.

To count of the sheer amount of mind-breaking realisation he undergoes in that moment;

Precognition doesn’t work and can be blinded and manipulated.
He has opened a hellgate directly into the Throneroom.
By the way, Hell exists and its that place you visit on the regular.
Gods are real and they are evil.
They planned this.
Every thing he did  was planned by evil gods.
Including, and in fact especially, the parts where you thought you were really trying hard to do the right thing.
Your sons are all going to mutate and turn into walking teratomas and there is no way out of that.
You can die here or be bound to a psychic lighthouse basically as a kitchen towel trying to keep demons off the kitchen floor FOREVER.
There was never any deal where you gave up an eye, you outwitted no-one, it was and act and you are a fool.
Literally NOTHING you ever did or any ideal you thought he represented meant SHIT – your dad lied to you and used him and evil gods will destroy everything you ever valued, also your dickhead cosplay barbarian brother is coming to maybe kill maybe capture him.
Oh the future looks like this also;

Be fair, that’s a lot to take in. Can you blame him for having a complete nervous breakdown?

What would you do? What could you do, when you know your every move, your every move, has already been plotted by evil extradimensional gods who have been playing you right up until this moment? And still are.

Prey animals play dead in these circumstances. It’s not a great tactic but tbh it may be the best you have got when you are already in the tigers mouth.

The Last Coherent Choice

Which is what Magnus does at this point. Sit in his room refusing to go out, too scared to answer emails or pick up the phone. It’s pretty sad but, again, what the fuck would you do? Every single thing he has tried to do up until this point was already accounted for and aided evil timeless extradimensional gods.

I have given Chaos a lot of shit for its, frankly often terrible schemes to corrupt Primarchs, but this time they really brought their A-Game. Feel like Tzeentch is the one competent member of the group tbh. Who else is turning up to the quarterly meeting? Maybe Nurgle but he never does anything.

I would also like to take a moment to remind everyone that to corrupt Magnus all it took was a reality-bending nightmare scheme with a Borgesian number of branching paths and all it too to turn Russ to the use of chaos was deleting the comma from an email.

The last coherent thing True-Magnus does is stumble out of his Pyramid and try to fight Russ, then on the way down to getting his back broken, sell his soul to keep his Legion and his people alive, before being shattered into a gazillion pieces. 

Bear in mind, it took the literally guillotine being on the way down the tracks for him to consciously and deliberately break.

Then, Fragments

Appropriately enough for Tzeentch. Little more than a field of playing pieces and a meta-personality slowly re-combining (through catastrophe and adventure), at a speed and in a manner more pleasing to Tzeentch.

Soul-surgery across eons of time…

Magnus in Publication Order

When we think of Magnus as a ‘Published Entity’ he makes a (slightly) more sense. The stories weave back and forth in time between M41, the Heresy and just post-Heresy. Still there is a pretty clear growth in the depth of his character, going from background supervillain in William Kings Space Wolf series from 2002 and culminating in the Emperors Throne room in ‘The Fury of Magnus’ in 2020

Early 2000’s - The Space Wolf/Ragnar Blackmane Series

Space Wolf, Grey Hunter – William King 2002, M41
Space Wolf, Wolfs Honour – Lee Lightner, 2008, M41

All about Ragnar Blackmane being just the best guy ever. Grey Hunter is about a Thousand Sons sorcerer trying to steal the Spear of Russ to being Magnus ‘back from the Immaterium’.

Magnus turns up at the end of ‘Wolfs Honour’, looming through a warp portal, intending to do some evil ritual on Fenris to destroy the Space Wolves and gets bonked in the face by the Spear of Russ.

(A spear which, in the tradition of Horus Heresy writing, will get more character development over the Heresy series than some living beings. At some point I should probably do a post of ‘Character Development of Weapons in the Horus Heresy).

2010- A Thousand Sons - Graham McNeill,  M31

A Major book for the 1k Sons which follows Ahriman on a journey which takes him all the way from watching his twin brother mutate in to a monstrosity under the influence of 19th legion gene seed, to Magnus arriving and ‘solving’ the Flesh-Change problem, to chilling with Magnus during the great crusade, Magnus discovering the webway, The Wolves being dicks, more tangles with the Space Wolves and finally the attack on Prospero and Magnus having his epic meltdown.

2011 - Prospero Burns, Dan Abnett, M31

Chunks of the same story but told from the Space Wolves perspective. Tldr; it took tzeentch doing quite a lot of intense trickery to fully turn the wolves, and the custodes, against the 19th legion

2011/2015 - War of the Fang, Chris Wraight, M32

Made up of ‘Battle of the Fang’,2011 and it prequel ‘The Hunt for Magnus 2015. Magnus is, once again, or actually for the first time..(?) attacking Fenris….

This time its in M32 in a (successful) attempt to stop the Space Wolves fixing their gene seed so they can become an Ultramarines-Style regional power to encircle the eye of terror. Magnus gets bonked by a Space Wolf and runs away but not before achieving the main aim of permanently retarding geneseed experimentation.

2012 to 2015 - Ahriman doing Time Loops, John French

Made up of Ahriman; Exile, John French 2012, Ahriman; Sorcerer, John French 2015 and  Ahriman Unchanged,  John French 2015.

The story of Ahriman post-Rubric, trying to recover from his crack addiction, hitting rock bottom, deciding to live and… getting right back on that crack.

Though its mainly about Ahriman this series sets the tone and feel for the 1k Sons and Magnus post-Heresy and post-Rubric. Though it will still be five years till McNeil tells us what actually happened to Magnus in the Heresy.

I’m not sure if French is the first person to introduce the idea of ‘shards’ of Magnus but I think  this is where that concept came from. Scars by Chris Wraight has Jaghatai encounter a ghostly shard of Magnus and that was published in 2015.

The concept is this; when Russ broke Magnus, he broke Magnus, splintering him into a huge number of sub-personalities which were scattered across Magnus’ timeline, and hidden in various other places. These ‘shards’ range in strength and intensity from ghostlike visions to fully embodied beings who are sure they are the ‘real’ Magnus. Each shard is based around a different aspect, core memory or expression of Magnus’ personality.

Several of the inciting elements for the Ahriman series are different shards of Magnus trying to manipulate events so they can express whatever that shards core values are. The trilogy ends with a ritual hoovering up even more shards and combining them into a stronger meta-personality.

Its also explicitly stated that Ahriman is doing time loops throughout the series, entering and exiting the Eye of Terror at different points on his own timeline, encountering people for the first time who already know him well and visa versa. The same seems to be true of the Magnus-shards who are manipulating everything. 

When does this series take place? Fuck knows. Draw a big squiggly line around the millennia M31 to M41.

2016  - Wrath of Magnus Campaign Book, M41

About 16 years ago in the Ragnar Blackmane books Maggy was trying a mysterious ritual involving screwing over Fenris and the Space Wolves.

Well this time he actually pulls it off! Chaos mass-invades the Fenris system, collapsing world after world, arriving on Fenris itself and successfully (partially) demonising it. 


Not only that but in a neo-ruinstorm move, Maggy actually manages to crack the fucking galaxy baby! Imperium Nihilus is a thing now!

lets goooooooooo!

Plus he teleports the Planet of the Sorcerers to Prospero. 

ahh hahahah fuck you Russssss!

Then gets bonked by a Khornate Axe wielded by a Space Wolf and runs away because apparently there is only one way these things are allowed to end. This is the third time btw.

2017 Magnus the Red: Master of Prospero, M31

Picks up with whatever remains of Magnus having taken a beating and hanging about on the Planet of the Sorcerers basically fading away like McFly due to missing soul stuff. In order to set him up for the next novel he has to have a flashback to early heresy times when he was palling about with Pertuabo and encountered a Dr Who mystery on a planet which mysteriously survived the Age of Strife – definitely not via spooky methods at all.

2017 - The Crimson King, M31

Ahriman and the 1k Sons try to face up to how fucked they are and finding their Dad has magical Alzheimer’s and is also dying, they decide to put him back together using a magical fetch quest!
Its just repairing a soul! How wrong can it go? When many or even most of the pieces are missing or gone…

Say hello to eventual-supervillian Magnus; The Crimson King. The guy who will, in roughly 10,000 years and after quite a few acts of gradual coelesance like this one, go on to crack the Galaxy in half.

Even having repaired Dad, and even with his major good part still missing the main desire of the Crimson King is still to get it back. He knows his ‘little voice’ is gone and wants to be whole. His method could be argued with; he will join with Horus in laying siege to the Emperors Palace.

2017 to 2020 – Bit Parts in the Heresy

In two books by John French Magnus turns up for bit parts and, along with the Sons, in ‘Slaves to Darkness’ he turns up at the end to announce he is on team bad-guy while in ‘The Solar War’ the 1k sons are some of the more-useful elements in Horus’ army.

2020 - The Fury of Magnus, M31

Magnus infiltrates the Palace with a handful of his main guys, gets a lot of the Chaos wiped off him and has some very consequential meeting with Malcador and the Emperor which do not go well at all.

He meets Malcador and asks for the good part of his soul back. Malcador tells him it simply can’t be done. (This part has already been combined with the last loyal Thousand Son, transformed into the first master of the Grey Knights and shoved through a space hole to Titan, then Titan itself shoved out of existence for a bit.

Perhaps more upsettingly, Malcador outright tells Magnus that the source of most of his problems if himself and that even without his missing soul-bit he still has enough of a personality to make good choices. This may be technically true but is maybe the best way to phrase it, and considering the sheer level of fuckery Malcador and the Emperor have engaged in, not the best person to bring it up and Magnus snaps Malcadors neck. He then meets with the Emperor who offers him a spot on the chair and informs him that the 19th Legion is a bust and always was.

(It’s not clear if these terrible attempts at persuasion are just terrible attempts or actual deliberately bad attempts. Malcador in particular seems to be expecting to die here..)

Magnus not unreasonably is not down with this and fucks right off out of the Siege. If you want to see where he appears “next” its in, I thiiink, the Ahriman Trilogy? Or possibly ‘Battle of the Fang’ as they likely overlap.

And there we are. All Wrapped up.

The Crimson King as a ‘Real’ Person

If taken as an actual personality Magnus Post-Heresy is notable for his lack of ambition and interest  in anything other than fucking over the Space Wolves. From a publishing perspective we know that this is because the Demon Primarchs are background characters in the 40k verse up until the Heresy Series really kicks off.

But it also makes sense from a personal perspective. As a lessened, crippled and frustrated post-shattering version of himself, what purpose does the Crimson King actually have? He might resent the Emperor but he has no love for Chaos and doesn’t really give a shit about the Horus/Abaddon viewpoint of ‘this galaxy is ours actually’.

He is a servant of a God who does not (consciously) worship that God and in fact hates it. His dream of a better galaxy is gone. He can’t really be a coomer for chaos. What else is there to do but scheme, dick over the Space Wolves and slowly re-assemble whatever bits of himself he can find.

Amazingly he seems to have finally accomplished all this (in Wrath of Magnus, 2016) and having cracked open the galaxy, maybe he can finally chill feeling free and happy as the more-psychotic version of himself? After all the ‘Crimson King’ has lasted a lot longer than ‘Magnus the Red’ ever did. (Plus he could always invade Titan and swallow Janus’ corpse, you never know it might do something! Maybe ‘eat every Grey Knight’ could be a new goal?