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Made in gb
Implacable Skitarii





Racerguy180 wrote:


by the way Karak norn clansman, keep up the good work! I take this stuff for granted cuz I got started in RT and it was obvious where they drew inspiration. but the more I talk about it with more recent players they like it and wonder why the new stuff is, how should I say...more feth giving, than less.



I agree with this so much, I think based on a lot of things you see online about 40k there are so many people who really don't understand the birth of 40k and the time in which it was written.

Love this thread Karak Norn Clansman, your stuff on other forums is always great to see. Can't wait to read more.

One foot in the hobby 
   
Made in us
Steady Space Marine Vet Sergeant




San Jose, CA

 Olthannon wrote:
Racerguy180 wrote:


by the way Karak norn clansman, keep up the good work! I take this stuff for granted cuz I got started in RT and it was obvious where they drew inspiration. but the more I talk about it with more recent players they like it and wonder why the new stuff is, how should I say...more feth giving, than less.



I agree with this so much, I think based on a lot of things you see online about 40k there are so many people who really don't understand the birth of 40k and the time in which it was written.

Love this thread Karak Norn Clansman, your stuff on other forums is always great to see. Can't wait to read more.


the old school fluff makes way more sense if you look at the environment the the lads in Nottingham grew up in. Then the humor & thinly veiled satire/sarcasm really start to shine.
   
Made in us
Dakka Veteran




Racerguy180 wrote:
 Olthannon wrote:
Racerguy180 wrote:


by the way Karak norn clansman, keep up the good work! I take this stuff for granted cuz I got started in RT and it was obvious where they drew inspiration. but the more I talk about it with more recent players they like it and wonder why the new stuff is, how should I say...more feth giving, than less.



I agree with this so much, I think based on a lot of things you see online about 40k there are so many people who really don't understand the birth of 40k and the time in which it was written.

Love this thread Karak Norn Clansman, your stuff on other forums is always great to see. Can't wait to read more.


the old school fluff makes way more sense if you look at the environment the the lads in Nottingham grew up in. Then the humor & thinly veiled satire/sarcasm really start to shine.


To do that you have to think critically, though, so...

It also helps to have an overdeveloped sense of irony.
   
Made in ch
Warped Arch Heretic of Chaos





Considering the imperial truth and what it turned into should be the best first Mark for anyone to consider anything in the to be an Ironic dramatic satirical twisted mirror of reality...

https://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/0/766717.page
A Mostly Renegades and Heretics blog.

 Daedalus81 wrote:

In the 41st millennium there is only overpriced hamberders.

 
   
Made in us
Chaos Space Marine dedicated to Slaanesh





Hecaton wrote:
Racerguy180 wrote:
 Olthannon wrote:
Racerguy180 wrote:


by the way Karak norn clansman, keep up the good work! I take this stuff for granted cuz I got started in RT and it was obvious where they drew inspiration. but the more I talk about it with more recent players they like it and wonder why the new stuff is, how should I say...more feth giving, than less.



I agree with this so much, I think based on a lot of things you see online about 40k there are so many people who really don't understand the birth of 40k and the time in which it was written.

Love this thread Karak Norn Clansman, your stuff on other forums is always great to see. Can't wait to read more.


the old school fluff makes way more sense if you look at the environment the the lads in Nottingham grew up in. Then the humor & thinly veiled satire/sarcasm really start to shine.


To do that you have to think critically, though, so...

It also helps to have an overdeveloped sense of irony.


Or be willing to ask.

To which point:

What about Nottingham and its environs make the old school fluff make more sense? Was this Thatcher-related?
   
Made in gb
Ork-Hunting Inquisitorial Xenokiller





Watch Fortress Excalibris

Not Online!!! wrote:
Considering the imperial truth and what it turned into should be the best first Mark for anyone to consider anything in the to be an Ironic dramatic satirical twisted mirror of reality...

Although it should be remembered that the whole 'Imperial Truth' thing and the Emperor being an atheist who (probably) never wanted to be worshipped are relatively recent retcons. Originally, the Emperor had spent most of human history deliberately setting up religions (to steer people away from Chaos) and seeding fake 'prophecies' that he could later 'fulfil'. Because originally the Emperor was a Dune rip-off. It's only much later he turned into... *checks notes* Dave Lister from Red Dwarf.

Accusing people of whining is just a particularly lazy way of admitting you have no counter-arguments.

Compromising with evil doesn't make you better than them. It makes you a collaborator. 
   
Made in ch
Warped Arch Heretic of Chaos





 Duskweaver wrote:
Not Online!!! wrote:
Considering the imperial truth and what it turned into should be the best first Mark for anyone to consider anything in the to be an Ironic dramatic satirical twisted mirror of reality...

Although it should be remembered that the whole 'Imperial Truth' thing and the Emperor being an atheist who (probably) never wanted to be worshipped are relatively recent retcons. Originally, the Emperor had spent most of human history deliberately setting up religions (to steer people away from Chaos) and seeding fake 'prophecies' that he could later 'fulfil'. Because originally the Emperor was a Dune rip-off. It's only much later he turned into... *checks notes* Dave Lister from Red Dwarf.


also true ,

https://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/0/766717.page
A Mostly Renegades and Heretics blog.

 Daedalus81 wrote:

In the 41st millennium there is only overpriced hamberders.

 
   
Made in gb
Implacable Skitarii





 CEO Kasen wrote:
Hecaton wrote:
Racerguy180 wrote:


the old school fluff makes way more sense if you look at the environment the the lads in Nottingham grew up in. Then the humor & thinly veiled satire/sarcasm really start to shine.


To do that you have to think critically, though, so...

It also helps to have an overdeveloped sense of irony.


Or be willing to ask.

To which point:

What about Nottingham and its environs make the old school fluff make more sense? Was this Thatcher-related?


Yes critical thinking has taken a bit of a leap right off the edge of the world.

Some people might say it's too easy to blame Thatcher for everything, but she had a lasting impact of misery on most of the UK. It's not just Nottingham. I think part of it also stems from it being a lot of British cultural satire that has now gone global and been deadened by that. It's difficult not to discuss early 40k while keeping with the forum rules about not being overly political especially since it is inherent in its creation. Thatcher's Britain was an environment that did not create a lot of hope for the future and I think 40k encapsulates that feeling more than anything else in the narrative. It's why the Imperium is corpulent, stagnated and beset on all sides. It's why people turn to anything else for a chance of freedom. Doomed forever to be just avoiding drowning, just having your head above the water. That was their vision of the future of humanity if people like that stayed in power. And if really you consider the last decade, it's fairly easy to see it.

Cheery eh?

One foot in the hobby 
   
Made in gb
Ork-Hunting Inquisitorial Xenokiller





Watch Fortress Excalibris


My silly headcanon: the Emperor is the version of Lister from the Despair Squid timeline, where he's (for some unexplained reason) a genocidal dictator.

Red Dwarf was also, of course, a product of (and reaction to) late-Thatcher-era Britain. And the concept of a gigantic space-mining vessel crewed by a tiny handful of people because the rest of the crew died in a stupid industial accident caused by incompetence is pretty 40K when you think about it.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2020/11/17 12:45:26


Accusing people of whining is just a particularly lazy way of admitting you have no counter-arguments.

Compromising with evil doesn't make you better than them. It makes you a collaborator. 
   
Made in gb
Implacable Skitarii





 Duskweaver wrote:

My silly headcanon: the Emperor is the version of Lister from the Despair Squid timeline, where he's (for some unexplained reason) a genocidal dictator.

Red Dwarf was also, of course, a product of (and reaction to) late-Thatcher-era Britain. And the concept of a gigantic space-mining vessel crewed by a tiny handful of people because the rest of the crew died in a stupid industial accident caused by incompetence is pretty 40K when you think about it.




I hope Timothy Spall gets a role in that headcanon

One foot in the hobby 
   
Made in us
Steady Space Marine Vet Sergeant




San Jose, CA

Red Dwarf probably happens in the same universe as 40k.

Or Rob Or Ross FTW!

   
Made in us
Dakka Veteran




 CEO Kasen wrote:


Or be willing to ask.

To which point:

What about Nottingham and its environs make the old school fluff make more sense? Was this Thatcher-related?


Well, Thatcher and the conservative politics she led. Remember, they were talking about rounding HIV-positive people up and putting them in camps, stuff like that, on top of an absolute economic beating applied to the working class. The North of England (including Nottingham) was hit particularly hard by the Thatcher-era policies; when she died the schadenfreude was real.

It's also worth noting that culturally, the UK has a lot of baggage about portraying religiosity (especially Catholic religiosity) as backwards, going back to their conflicts with France and Spain post-reformation. The Spanish Inquisition being evil and sadistic is a cultural touchstone in the UK that's sometimes played for laughs ("No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!"). It ties into their propagandizing of Spain as being backwards and evil compared to their supposedly enlightened British values. So in WH40k you saw a mashup of ideas that were coming out of British conservative thought and this Black Spain propaganda, basically the guys who were writing the setting saying "British right-wing thought right now is exactly what our supposed ideals tell us we should be fighting against."
   
Made in us
Dakka Veteran




Sweden

@ph34r: Thank you kindly!

@Skinflint Games: Most apt. Great quote, my friend. Thanks a lot!

@Olthannon: Thank you very much! I have so many subjects for future drawings and writings locked and loaded.

@Olthannon, Racerguy180, Hecaton & NotOnline!!!: Lots of people don't seem to get that the Imperium is a needlessly and counter-productively evil empire in the fullest sense of the word. That has always amazed me. The grimdark is on full display, including a lot more in recent publications than most give GW credit for from what I've seen, coupled with a lovely crazy humour and tons of irony to give the setting its charm. You don't have to think for long to realize that 40k is rigged so that everyone is wrong and there are no good alternatives in sight. The 1980s satirical roots of Rogue Trader, with its bleakness, mechanistic cruelty and sense of isolation, are likewise obvious and well noted.

For they are central to the entire setting, and any true understanding of how Warhammer 40'000 ticks in order to write one's own background require some grasp of its foundational inspiration (even if distant and completely uninvolved as in my case). For the record it might be noted that no creative work of mine is ever a case of agenda-hunting, but pursued for the sake of pure freewheeling creativity informed by a curiosity of knowledge for the sake of knowledge itself. These 40k pieces are all about drilling down to the regressed soul of Warhammer 40'000 and flesh it out true to the spirit of the setting (without anachronistic shortcomings and modern Americanisms), usually inspired by real phenonmena of dysfunctionality, horror and atrocity from all across the globe and historical eras. It's a jolly celebration of 40k's ludicrously grimdark and silly bonkers nature.

Cheers!

@NotOnline!!! & Duskweaver: Aye, the original vision for the Emperor and religion was different, but the current one is such a deliciously ironic piece of narrative that one cannot help but love it to the core. And it doesn't really subtract from what was originally known about the Emperor, only gives it more Great Crusade-era specific twists to the tale. Good point with Dune, and Red Dwarf hahaha!




Raider Seizure

In a distant age of decay, in a depraved time beyond hope, the sins of deceit, theft and greed flourish among a ruinscape of crushed dreams.

Certain ancient civilizations during the Age of Terra regarded traders and merchants as little better than parasites, buying and selling the produce of others for profit, and therefore their caste was lowly even though their coffers might be full. Elsewhere during this archaic epoch, beliefs held that it was harder for a merchant to enter paradise, than it was for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Similar ways of thinking are prevalent across large swathes of the Imperium of Man, for what value does moneygrubbing tradesfolk and entrepreneurs really add? Any success of theirs is solely attained by the grace and benevolence of the ascended Emperor of Mankind, and the marketbrokers of the corpus and collegia ought to repent of their devious ways by vigorous self-flagellation and through the purchasing of indulgences and gifting up of generous donations to the Adeptus Ministorum. This they ought to, or else their souls will face the damning hellfire.

It is, after all, better to look to the saints and martyrs for higher examples on how to live one's life, and rather pray for miracles and deliverance from our lord and master on Holy Terra, than to sully a mind meant for humble worship with the ceaseless pursuit of selfish gain.

This disdain for tradesmen and speculators without noble pedigree, coupled with a spiteful envy inherent in the human soul, remains an important ingredient in the dysfunctional convergence of factors that produce a peculiar Imperial phenomenon most commonly known as raider seizure. This is a dreaded scourge of guilders, manufactoria owners, slumlords, voidtraders, latifundia masters and other businessfolk, which entails illegal seizure of real estate, corporate rights, vessels and facilities, with the aid of public authorities.

Raider seizure tend to be especially prevalent on planets, continents and voidholms which sport a frequent turnover of high-ranking officials due to instability at higher levels, as well as a dishonest business culture and widespread corruption within Imperial Adepta and planetary or voidholm governing organs, including law enforcement agencies and courts. Raider attacks on corporate entities often involve the active participation of policiary forces, Administratum personnel and government agencies, all working under the influence of bribes and the pretense of crimes afoot in the company in question.

Enterprises that run the risk of becoming objects of raider seizure will usually possess large real estate objects, lucrative intellectual property (on those worlds and voidholms where that concept is even acknowledged legally and carries pecuniary weight, that is) and any form of business that brings a stable income. The aim of the corporate raiders is to seize control of the lucrative assets, and extract revenue from the seized property with which to fend off juridical counter-claims by dispossessed former owners and stakeholders, who cannot feed the lawyers' meatgrinder with their stolen facilities and thus have to instead burn through savings at a rapid pace if they want to stay in the court at all. Most cannot afford such a protracted legal battle, especially since court cases can stretch into multi-generational clashes fought over centuries by the descendants of both parties and the replacements of long-dead jurists.

The groundwork for a raid scheme is often laid through shady dealings, the malevolent insertion of fine print in written deals, unreliable business partnerships and infiltration of enterprises. Sometimes there will even be manipulation of legal documents in company archives, at rare occassions employing highly costly assassins and espionage mercenaries who will break and enter guilder headquarters and burgohalls at their utmost peril. Raiders will exploit loopholes and insecurities in paperwork, preparing carefully in diligent silence before the decisive push. They will scour the archives for any dirty hold that can be gained over the victim. To this end they will search for such paperwork as business contracts, licenses, inspection findings, debt securities, unrenewed title files and statutory documents. Likewise, this prospecting will seek out unsent certificates and transfers of corporate rights to third parties such as directors, decurions or chairman of the board. Another fertile area of documents are legal mistakes and inaccuracies in concluding transactions, and woe betide any victim who misspell a single letter in a concluding oath sworn to the Terran Imperator.

Such illicit archive harvesting and company infiltration all leads up to a very hostile takeover, where misbegotten fraudulent preparations are followed up with weapons and violence. Although private henchmen and mercenary muscle is ordinarily employed by the raiders in question, most understand that a succesful guild coup or corporate putsch also requires backing by crooked high-ranking administrators and bribed enforcers of law and order, often hailing from the esteemed Adeptus Arbites itself, acting as if to uphold the Lex Imperia against offending criminals. The martial contingent is crucial, for many raider seizures turn into bloody corridor wars.

Raider captures must be swift and ruthless to succeed, and so often involve gunfights, harrowing on-the-spot torture and the blasting of locked doors and vaults in order to speedily acquire control of assets, key charters and chief personnel. Indeed many an owner or important stakeholder in a sanctified business venture has found themself signing off their life's work and main inheritance at gunpoint, not seldom with their spouse and children under lethal threat from raider henchmen or officious Arbitrators who declare every word they utter in protest to be perjury and blasphemy toward His Divine Majesty. After all, to question your masters and betters is ultimately to question the Emperor Himself, and such heinous words demand the most brutal of punishments. The disaster of the Horus Heresy must not be repeated!

Purge the deviant. Slay the malcontent. Burn the heretic.

And so nefarious plots and clandestine confiscations threaten any actor in the world of industry and commerce with instant ruin and howling despair. Untold numbers of guilders, publicani, managing directors and collegii wake in cold sweat, keeping discreet personal weapons and hired guards close at hand at all times, all the while throwing paranoid glances over their shoulders at any unexpected noise. Their precautions and hired armsmen might fend off a sloppy attempt at corporate conquest, but they know full well that they stand little chance once their hidden enemies palm off handsomely enough to involve planetary or voidholm officials and law enforcement in substantial numbers, or, God-Emperor forbid, the harsh and unforgiving fist of the Adeptus Arbites.

Thus there is no safe haven even for those in possession of wealth and power within the star-spanning domains of the Lord and Saviour of Humanity. No safeguard against a baleful fate, no shield from the sudden ruination.

Such is the state of our species, in the darkest of futures.

For there is no loophole through which to escape the devil's contract which man has signed.

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is only predation.

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2020/11/18 04:15:37


   
Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut






UK

Horribly believable - and VERY 40k!

Skinflint Games- war gaming in the age of austerity

http://www.skinflintgames.co.uk

 
   
Made in us
Dakka Veteran




Sweden

@Skinflint Games: Thank you very much, sir!



Proscription List

In a dark age of ravenous madness, doom may come at the stroke of a quill.

An enduring hallmark of His Divine Majesty's astral realm is its tendency toward cannibalizing ancient technology and society alike, feeding hungrily on hidden reserves and sometimes hollowing out its own foundations. The modus operandi of the Imperium of Man is one of answering challenges to its power with an increased input of manpower and resources fed into the meatgrinder, applied inefficiently at the best of times with a callous disregard for any human suffering thus inflicted. Oftentimes, the resultant hardships, mass death and agony will be met by Imperial masters with utter contempt for the unbecoming weakness and wretchedness on display, or even with a cruel glee at the righteous cleansing of the frail and the deviant.

One widespread phenomenon of such an Imperial eagle's eating of its own children, is that of proscription, namely a decree of condemnation to death and outlawry (or in rare cases banishment) of undesired Imperial subjects of means. Proscriptions are death lists placed in public places, which declare all enlisted names of those damned to have been deprived of all privileges, property and rank, and to be abandoned by the God-Emperor's holy light. Proscription decrees likewise invites any enterprising and loyal Imperial subjects to participate in manhunts to root out and kill outlaws in order to receive fine rewards in exchange for presentation of proof of deed fulfilled, such as decapitated heads of the proscribed ones.

Naturally, all estates, vessels and fortunes of proscripts will be seized by those Adepts or local rulers which issued the decree. This confiscation of property is quite often followed by grand public auctions in order to bring in funds quickly, during which vast tracts of real estate, manufactoria ownership certificates, collegia shares and other lucrative possessions can often be purchased at very low rates by ruthless speculators and moneyed vultures of others' demise. Whoever offers proof of slaying the proscribed gain either a small share in this looting of the victim's belongings, or a handsome set bounty.

Oftentimes, the strenuous demands of total war on ten thousand different war fronts will act as a spur for both the Adeptus Terra and rulers of worlds and voidholms alike to seize resources of Imperial subjects and swiftly raise additional funds for a treasury in crisis through extraordinary means of declaring opponents and propertied unfortunates to be outlaws. At other times, internal power struggles among rulers, with their combined need for more revenue and the elimination of both rival factions and emerging centres of power alike may result in decrees of proscription. It is likewise not uncommon for such enlisting of condemned outlaws to be born out of insanity, paranoia or a sadistic wish to display great power among planetary governors, voidholm despots, regional satraps and other high-ranking masters and betters.

As a rule, proscriptions do not touch the very highest of noble houses since they are too powerful and too dangerous to fall for such a common, petty ploy. Instead, proscriptions tend to prey upon thousands upon thousands of middling guilders, nobles, officials and military potentates, many of which may constitute part of some rival upper nobility house's support base, not seldom in a client-patron relationship. Thus proscriptions may indirectly target the supporters of higher nobility rivals to the ruler in a vicious attempt to undermine their influence, without being so tactless and blundering as to directly including any of the highest aristocratic enemy houses' names on the condemnation lists.

The posting of proscription lists in fora and other public places is the signing of a death note, sparking frenzied activity on the streets as professional bounty hunters and enterprising Imperial subjects alike scramble to hunt down those marked for death and destruction. Sometimes, mobs of manhunters need to overcome deadly bodyguards and noble house armsmen in frantic shootouts or even outright outbursts of urban warfare, yet more commonly the guards themselves will turn their weapons upon their master or mistress since they happen to stand in a prime position to reap the proscription rewards ahead of the greedy competition. That competition is indeed fierce and many-headed, because special grants of legal privileges, debt annulment and manumission from slavery and indentured servitude in exchange for handing in the head of a proscript traitor remain potent and tempting rewards for the lowliest of thralls and menials among the filthy, teeming masses of humanity.

On hundreds of thousands of Imperial worlds and uncounted void habitats, there exist a vast flora of tales of fleeing and hiding proscripts, facing wildly different fates. Some outlaws are ratted out by servants or by their own family and friends, while many hide in ingenious or disgusting places for months or years on end. Others are mercifully spared due to their youth by one benevolent group of manhunters, only to be ceaselessly stalked by a second band, and end up offering themselves to the first group as a way for their death to reward the more worthy beneficiaries. Yet others go underground or flee into the wilderness, slag glacier or Underhive, and these exiles tend to change their appearance with new hairstyles, the growing of beards, tattoos, bionics and a plethora of other means; sometimes ending up as members or even leaders of criminal gangs, and occassionally being found out and exterminated many years after the original proscription list was first posted. The stories are endless, yet most end with a grim fate in store for the running proscripts and hiding outlaws, who eventually succumb to overlord-approved murder, often of a tortuous nature.

As a rule, the announcement of a proscription decree is accompanied by children, grandchildren and other kin and descendants of the outlaws being both marked with infamy and forbidden to seek public office or rank, and likewise it is not possible to inherit any property of proscribed people. Large proscription campaigns may often leave a shunned caste of untouchables behind, whose damning status as the seed of proscripts will continue to brand their descendants for untold generations to come. In some cultures, the spouse of the outlaw may not marry again, and all their children are rendered illegitimate with all the stigma thus attached.

Many variants of proscription decrees go so far as to condemn the entire clan, house and extended family of proscriped ones to the same bloody end as the intended individual targets (usually the masters of households or clan leaders). Thus unnumbered bloodlines have met their collective end at the hands of greedy mob violence, treacherous bodyguards or stalking bounty hunters, all pursuing the high prizes of death lists in a violent field day where one man dead is another man's bread. Most victims of proscriptions are beheaded by their banes, and these bloody trophies and proofs of deed are often proudly displayed in a city's Forum Imperialis or other esteemed public locations.

It goes without saying that the most abominable punishments are reserved for any misguided weaklings and malcontents who would seek to help and hide the condemned proscripts, for the Imperium cannot abide such treachery toward the sacred order of Him on Terra.

Thus the Imperium of Man is characterized by inevitable, mechanistic cruelty, playing out in repeating cycles of purges, plundering and bloodbaths. Here, no amount of wealth, title and influence can truly shield you from the horror and ruin of a sudden downfall, and no amount of claiming your rights nor protesting your innocence can protect you from a righteously delivered death by better Imperial subjects than yourself. To find your name on an Imperial proscription list is to lose everything you own and everyone you hold dear, for even an unlikely survival as a wretched outlaw in the gutter will mean surrendering all that was precious to you, except your own life.

And so the creaking and rusty wheels of Imperial power continue turning with an unstoppable momentum, grinding hopes and families beneath their oppressive weight, and crushing guilty and innocent alike with an indifferent heart of stone. Century after century, they grind on, their long route one of barbaric cruelty and demented sacrifice leading toward nought but a dead end. Millennium after millennium, the wheels of Imperial power keep on turning, lubricated by the blood of its victims, their names forgotten by a faceless tyranny that was never shy of devouring its own people. Such is the Age of Imperium.

Such is the depravity of man.

Such is the future that awaits us all.

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is nowhere to hide.

   
Made in us
Dakka Veteran




Sweden



Kin Mercy

In the grim darkness of the far future, man's last resort may turn out a family event.

In a demented epoch, the crushing, draining misery of everyday human life across vast swathes of the Imperium of Man foments bleak moods and dark desperation in the depths of man's soul. All too many servants of the God-Emperor find themselves unable to bear the heinous burdens placed upon them by circumstance, ancient vassal duties and dictactes from their masters and betters. Of those who crack under neverending pressure, suffering and drudgery, some turn to amasec or narcotics abuse, or let loose their dammed-up wrath and frustration in bouts of domestic violence, street brawls, spontaneous slaying, planned murder or sadistic torture of the defenceless.

Others caught in the grips of pain and despair turn to rabidly fervent worship, praying and reciting mantras over and over again at street corner shrines, incense-wrapped temples and candle-lit icons in an unhinged balancing act between insanity and devotion that leads many exhausted fanatics to receive extatic visions and urges to preach the good faith. Such revelations may see them turn into tolerated holy men, sanctioned saints, martyrs of the faith, or heretics and infidels burned at the stake. Others, yet again, turn to far darker occult mysteries, and seek escape through unholy powers forbidden to man.

Still other men, women and even children who cannot stand the daily toll of abhorrent misery and hardship, turn to a terrible and ancient solution to their woes, electing to end their own beings in the mortal vale of tears they knew as life. This they do in ten thousand different ways of self-destruction ranging from the quick to the slow, from the painless to the excruciating. In the Age of Imperium there is, after all, no shortage of high falls, unsafe electrical wiring of deadly current, crushing autodoors, rapid vehicles, toxic waste from industry, monstrous fauna, trigger-happy folks spoiling for an excuse to draw arms and collect a trophy, or poisonous substances and unsafe manufactoria machines with which to meet an untimely end, to name but a few of the legions of hazards facing humanity in a future deathtrap environment which man has constructed for himself. Thus intentional slaughter of the self remain a common, dull background tone in the cacophonic symphony of churning industry, superstitious chatter, endemic violence and rampant breeding that constitutes life in the Imperium of Man.

Nasty, brutish and short as this life is.

And so every day across the galactic domains of Holy Terra and Mars, millions commit suicide, in spite of knowing full well the damning hellfire that awaits those who would end their Emperor-given lives for the sake of heretical thoughts of self. While it is better to die for the Emperor than to live for yourself, it is undoubtedly blasphemous to die for yourself out of egotistic weakness and lapse of faith, without any regard given for the higher demands placed upon your shoulders by the glorious and all-encompassing Imperium of Man. How could one shirk from one's duty by flinging oneself into the jaws of death? The lives of Imperial subjects are not at their own disposal to waste, but at the pleasure of their masters and overlords to squander as rightly appointed delegates of the divine Imperator.

Naturally, it follows that people who both fail in their attempts at suicide and are found out, will be arrested by Imperial or planetary and voidholm authorities, and be either tortured and executed publicly in such depraved manners so as to dissuade others, or be horribly turned into lobotomized cyborg thralls known as servitors, thereby shackled to unending slavery in the flesh even as their consciousness is all but snuffed out without anaesthetics by brutal techmen and automated assembly lines, in fabricator cathedrals where men and women are turned mechanistically into servitors by other servitors. Ideally, there is no escape from your ordained thralldom.

Given that the Imperium of Man generally operates on a crude and primitive mode of collective punishment and kinsgroup responsibility, the attempted or succesful self-liquidation of a single clan member may lead to heavy fines, confiscations of property or offspring, arrests, public torture, penance and further executions levied upon their kin of extended family. Such blatant threats against near and dear of those wretched sufferers who would dare to contemplate destroying the production or military human asset unit which they themself represent toward the faceless bureaucrats of the Adeptus Terra, will often serve to cow many of the worst weaklings to stand in line and not subject their own kinsfolk to baleful retribution. After all, it is an outright act of rebellion, apostasy and treason for a subject of the Emperor of Earth to deny his or her legitimate masters, overseers and superiors the labour, obedience, armed service and ritual worship which lowly minions owe to the sacred chain of command stretching all the way up to His Divine Majesty through the lowest leaders of hierarchy embodied by your whip-carrying taskmasters. An Imperial subject is only permitted to sacrifice themself for a higher cause, never for the sake of their own irrelevance.

Still, all the most horrific deterrents of peril toward loved ones dreamed up by crazed fanatics, psychopathic torturers and gleegul executioners cannot prove failsafe against every would-be suicide. Some desperate souls may be past caring. While some few who hate their own kin after years of abominable abuse might even use their own illegal ending as a way to bring down the fist of Imperial justice upon their own clan as revenge from beyond the grave, figuratively speaking. Though more literally, for most inhabitants of the Imperium of Man, that vengeance would be visited from beyond the bio-recycling corpse-grinder. Still others, of course, lack any known family against which to retaliate, in which case punishments may instead be doled out arbitrarily against fellow shift workers, neighbours, known associates or random bystanders. After all, someone must be made an example out of, lest the defeatist rot spreads further and undermines the resolve of human populations destined and meant only to serve their species and lord through unending hardship and trials of faith.

Among some human cultures across hundreds of thousands of worlds and voidholms beyond counting within the sacred astral realms of Him on Terra, there exist a harrowing, dysfunctional phenomenon born out of the depths of soul's despair and mind's demented train of thought. It goes by many names, in innumerable dialects and local languages in a myriad of backwater regions and districts, but its most common form in Low Gothic is that of kin mercy, denoting the killing of one's own family dependents as part of suicide.

So-called kin mercy is usually sprung out of either a desire of a self-waster to save beloved family members from horrendous Imperial collective punishment of their kinsfolk; or the demands of strict cultural honour codes; or the bread-winning master or mistress of the household concluding that surviving spouse (or spouses, in case of polygamy), children and other dependents won't manage to survive well on their own once the despairing wage-earner and head of household is gone. In the latter case, many hard-working husbands, and wives (often with sickly parents, grandparents and siblings or children), may conclude that the horrors of the workhouse or the poverty, perils, reprehensible sin and selling of oneself on the city street and voidholm corridor for sustenance, will constitute a fate worse than death, and a life of utter misery and damnation which they will not condemn their kinsfolk to.

Whatever the demented reasoning, the end result is the same: The attempted extermination of the criminal's own family, and then the slaying of themself. In any case, the murder spree was only an extension of one person's suicide, and the tragedy is thus considerably amplified. Yet in the wider community of the parochial Imperial culture in question, this monstrous bloodshed known as kin mercy tend to be more of a sad routine event than an extraordinary atrocity, somewhat akin to the widespread exposure of unwanted infants in so many parts of uncounted Imperial worlds and voidholms.

And so degenerate descendants of a once brilliant mankind take their last farewells in a heinous and heretical act of self, and exits the stage with their own families as a bloody retinue, their wasted souls about to face the harsh judgement of the God-Emperor seated upon the Golden Throne of Holy Terra. There, as scripture and preachers firmly attest, their failure to face suffering in this life will be punished with eternal suffering in the hellfires of the inescapable afterlife, and thus divine justice is carried out, as per His wishes as the master and saviour of man.

All this transpires, in an era of doom.

In a time beyond hope.

Thus is the depravity of our species on full display, in the darkest of futures.

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is only torment.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2020/12/04 11:51:50


   
Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut






UK

You have outdone yourself there, my friend.

With shaking hand, I pour the first of many whiskey shots I'll be needing to sleep tonight

Skinflint Games- war gaming in the age of austerity

http://www.skinflintgames.co.uk

 
   
Made in us
Dakka Veteran




Sweden

@Skinflint Games: Thank you most kindly, mate! That's rather a contrast, because when writing these, I'm grinning and laughing in a laidback manner rather much, going "how can I make this even more bonkers?" 40k is so excessively dark that I can't really take it serious.

Kin mercy is by the way based on a 1980s South African phenomenon.



Wisdom Since Cradle

In a lost age, competence is measured by pedigree.

Across hundreds of thousands of planets and voidholms without number, the grand majesty of the Imperium of Man is invested in the local authority of noble families and feudal warlords, sworn to a liege planetary governor or voidholm overlord. These mighty magnates may vie viciously for power with each other through scheming, assassinations, civil wars, sabotage, destabilizing propaganda campaigns, trade blockades and a thousand other means of underhanded obstruction and opposition to rivals and hereditary foes. Sometimes, both open and covert forms of confrontations among the ruling nobility may spill over and impact the tithes due to the Imperium, or destroy precious infrastructure, irreplacable machines, vital industrial complexes and libraries housing ancient books, all of which represent wasted assets of the Imperator upon the Golden Throne.

And yet for all the havoc and damage that the uncontrollable spats and power struggles of potentates and patricians may inflict upon the astral domains of His Divine Majesty, the feudal disunity and squabbling of aristocratic houses and power blocs is still vastly preferable to most alternatives in the callous eyes of the Adeptus Terra, for the neo-feudal system lends a rooted stability pleasing to the eyes of the Holy Terran High Lords. Ideally, of course, the overarching, galaxy-spanning organizations of the Imperium itself would be the sole, unquestioned ruling body of every single eparchy, diocese, satrapy, archonate, province, thema and prefecture on a million worlds and innumerable void habitats, with no local power centers able to challenge the will of an absolute despot appointed from on high by the High Lords of Terra themselves, and answerable to them alone, and by extension to the ascended God-Emperor, naturally.

Ideally, the swollen bureaucracy of the Imperium itself would be able to govern the lives of all its settlements, all its installations and every single one of its teeming subjects down to a scrutinizing level of detail, lording it with unlimited tyranny, complete oppression and inescapable draconic punishments over every man, woman and child of the human species in the Milky Way Galaxy. Ideally, the Imperium of Man would be a perfect autocracy without division, rebellion and strife; without deviation, infidelity and heresy. Ideally, indeed, every aspect of life and death would be under the crushing heel of Imperial rulers, with no thought, word or deed ever being possible to contradict the will of His legitimately appointed officials, and with all of humanity singing in one great harmonious choir of pious submission and loyal obedience without end. This alone would have been perfect.

Alas, such godlike total power over the Emperor's dominions remain but a wet dream of higher-ranking Imperial Adepts, masters and mistresses faced with a frustrating and limited reality. The corruption, obscurantism, ineptitude, senile confusion and screeching inefficiency of Imperial structures of power in general, and of the Adeptus Administratum in particular, mean that Imperial grasp is stunted and with limited penetration into society. The truth is that Imperial Adepta know all too many bounds to their reach and control, and at the best of times the Emperor-appointed organizations of the Imperium can but exert influence upon the actual local rulers of worlds and voidholms, often resorting to diplomacy, nepotism, bribery, cultivation of contacts, veiled threats and occassional use of covert operations and hired assassins in order to pursue their myopic agendas. Even in the restricted enclaves where direct Imperial, totalitarian control can be exerted as fully as possible for the glory of the Saviour of Mankind, internal aristocratic cliques of dynastic officials still tend to form rapidly, true to the iron law of oligarchy inherent to the species.

Thus a bewildering myriad of Imperial Adepta, Departmenta, Officia, Kanslia, Ostiaria and Magistrata constitute a ruthlessly competing mass of authorities guarding their own interests above all else, and within all of them entrenched nobilities of officialdom eventually arise, and constantly spire anew after bloody purges due to Inquisitorial suspicion sweep clear the old power holders. These Imperial authorities, in turn, must deal with local and regional rulers not inducted into any branch of the Adeptus Terra, navigating the reefs, storms and false lighthouses of local aristocracies who possess considerable power and independence of action. All these noble houses are officially sworn to obey the planetary governor or voidholm overlord as the Imperial representative on their world or void habitat, yet few monarchs and governors of planets ever manage to truly control their unruly and powerful vassals, being instead more akin to the first among equals in a ring of squabbling warlords and oligarchs. Planetary governors and other Imperial representatives are the juiciest targets for assassination and coups in internal feuds as they are face of the Imperium to their own world or voidholm, and at the same time they are the one most likely to face summary torture and execution as the face of their world toward the Imperium, should the Imperium in general, and the Inquisition in particular prove unhappy with the massive tithes or heretical cultists streaming out from their disorderly territory.

Thus vassal obligations and feudal infighting reign supreme across the star-spanning realm of the God-Emperor, and on most worlds and voidholms the population swear fealty to various lineages of the sprawling and opulent local nobility. Within this aristocracy, almost every family of note sport intricate documents claiming long lines of ancestry to the legendary founder of a colony, a saga-sung great builder, the courtesan of an attendant of the Emperor in flesh during the Great Crusade, a bardic trickster, a lauded salvager of archeotech vital to the functioning of the colony, close relatives of an antique saint or holy man, a mythical war hero, or other famous historical personages. This pedigree is jealously guarded and boasted about in monuments, great religious displays and military parades sponsored by the noble house in question, and every member of the house grow up schooled in their own importance, learned about the purity of their heritage and knowing full well the superiority of their elevated blood, as contrasted to the randomly breeding rabble beneath their notice.

While sons and daughters of fine breeding are made aware of their great ancestors from the mother's milk (or rather, wet-nurse's milk), so too the lower classes on most worlds and voidholms are inculcated with a sense of the primacy of inheritance and family legacy. In most Imperial cultures, there exist a concept most commonly known in Low Gothic as wisdom since cradle. This is an assumption of inherited knowledge, insight and talent being passed down from gifted forefathers, thus making noble offspring the very best that humanity has to offer, the best suited to lead and the innately most skilled people to recruit for important positions.

The concept of wisdom since cradle is a variety of nepotism, where progeny of masters (who are considered wise as a default presumption) are assumed to inherit wisdom by birthright and blood, and are therefore rendered due reverence. This belief is backed up by mountains of theological scripture and academic treatises, supported by proverbs in everyday speech to validate this piece of everyman's knowledge. Wisdom since cradle is a very common phenomenon across the vast swathes of the Imperium of Man, and it may sometimes prove valid, seeing chips off the old block repeat some achievements of their noble parents, grandparents or more distant ancestors. Yet more often does it foster orders of leaders who turn increasingly ignorant over generations, as these orders continue expanding through centuries of breeding and aggressive safeguarding of privileges.

This assumption of wisdom since cradle usually influences the nursing and raising of aristocratic children, and is a far more pervasive phenomenon than the concept of noblesse oblige among decadent noble houses sworn to the Holy Terran Emperor. Caretakers are either often instructed to apply severe methods of upbringing and harsh discipline, or else they are often told to tolerate petty cruelties as signs of flourishing majesty and infantile promises of future might and talent. In the latter case, nursemaids and other domestic servants are ordered to indulge the spoiled child's capricious whims out of respect for their noble pedigree, thereby cultivating the worst of vices and base malevolence from a tender age through selective neglect despite surrounding the offspring with a retinue of caretakers at all time.

For instance, it is common to employ whipping boys and girls of the same age as noble children, many of whom are educated together with their aristocratic betters, and often become future advisors and commoner attendants or agents of the noble house once grown up, unless they succumb to madness or death first. These whipping boys and girls are to receive floggings, electro-lashes, finger-flayings, scorchings, nail-rippings, needlings and beatings when the princely progeny transgress, sins and commit errors. That way, the noble progeny will be shown the consequences of failure, without harming their well-bred flesh in the process. Needless to say, this widespread custom of plebeian whipping boys and girls to receive the punishments of noble offspring fosters a great many sadists among the Imperial nobility, many brats of which will go on to take up the estemeed sport of peasant-hunting, akin to the Spyrers of Necromunda in the Segmentum Solar.

Some noblemen and noblewomen of more refined tastes even go so far as to take up torture-to-death of misstepping servants and commoners kidnapped from the streets, as a depraved sport which sometimes include bathing in the lifeblood of their many victims, carving totemic luck charms from finger bones or licking the marrow from split bones to attain their victim's inherent animist power. Even so, this is to say nothing of the insane excesses pursued by certain outlawed pain and pleasure cults, who for some reason find fertile ground in the nobility of many a world or voidholm.

As a general rule, the more densely populated an Imperial domain is, the more avaricious and dishonest are its denizens, and the more uncaringly cruel are its upper castes. Sheer mass of human numbers tend to turn people indifferent toward each other, branding the culture with a heart of stone. Conversely, Imperial Knight worlds with their usually low populations and colonial frontier traditions of protecting the populace are known to sport some of the most selfless aristocrats in any space under the Imperator's heavenly rule, yet these are outliers compared to most human worlds and voidholms, where teeming billions of wretched Imperial subjects are lorded over by sneering and callous noble houses interested only in wringing as much labour as possible out of their serfs to fund extravagant festivities and pursue grand vanity projects in a neverending quest for prestige and glory.

And so mediocre heirs of great men and women are raised as if they were infant prodigies, their noble kinsfolk employing a whole retinue of household staff and hired teachers in the hopes of repeating their lineage's brilliance in future generations. Such hopes often turn to ashes, yet even lacklustre nobility tend to be capable of muddling along without wrecking the family fortune, to then procreate and give the patrician clan another shot at renewed greatness.

Thus wisdom since cradle remain a fundamental part of most Imperial cultures, an assumption which stretches beyond conceptions of genetics and eugenics into the spiritual realm. On most Imperial worlds and voidholms, outright imbecilles and inbred masters are given the reverence due their bloodlines, often being chosen for office and promotion first and foremost on the strength of their pedigree, or on the connections of their illustrious family. Sometimes, this lottery of ancestors, classical education and genetic inheritance turns out fine or even brilliantly, yet all too often there will be drawn blanks and duds, of which the enormously long record of costly and bloody Imperial leadership incompetence stands as a witness.

This is but another aspect of descendant degeneration, of the worsening of man and of his fall into savagery and superstition. And all is well in the sacred domains of the God-Emperor of Holy Terra, blessed be His name.

For is not man's fate in the darkening Age of Imperium decreed from cradle to grave? And does not rigid order rule righteously supreme and uncontested wherever the twainheaded Aquila proudly flies? How could it be anything else? Does not sons and daughters of the great and the good possess a portion of their forefathers' excellence? How could fine ancestry not be venerated as a sign of rightful mastery gifted from the divine Imperator Himself, never to be questioned?

Such is the best we can hope for, in an era of regression.

Such is the lot of our species, in a time beyond hope.

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and the only light lies far into the past.

This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2020/12/12 09:11:16


   
Made in gb
Implacable Skitarii





Great stuff as always KNC! Particularly enjoyed the last line of your latest one!

One foot in the hobby 
   
Made in us
Humming Great Unclean One of Nurgle






I've avoided responding to this threat before, because while I find the quality of writing to be excellent I dislike the substance. It is hard for me to voice harsh criticism here; I know from experience that writing takes a lot of effort and writing well is both remarkably difficult and remarkably underappreciated. I can see how much passion went into this and I salute you for it. But I think you push the grimdark into grimderp. It is my very subjective personal opinion, but this goes beyond an engaging narrative of brutality and survival to become something that is just silly. I know it is not meant to be taken seriously, but there still needs to be some grounding to allow for a setting to be immersive. I read this and it no longer seems dark at all, it seems like a clown with a comedic sad face painted on.

But that's just me. Obviously you put a lot into this, and it shows. The areas of the setting you go into, the wording and style used in you descriptions, are fantastic. I hope you keep going, and I hope more people get to read it.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2020/12/16 19:42:18


Still trying to be more polite. If you catch me being toxic please call me on it.

Enjoying narrative before matched play, crusading on a path to glory! 
   
Made in se
Dakka Veteran




Sweden

@Olthannon: Thank you most kindly, man!

@NinthMusketeer: "An nescis, mi fili, quantilla prudentia mundus regatur?"

"Do you not know, my son, with how very little wisdom the world is governed?" - Axel Oxenstierna, 1648


Thanks! That's rather funny, because one comment received on Reddit was diametrically different in its interpretation. Roughly, "Your work is grimdark without the derp, not forgetting the human." To keep tally, that's 1-1 so far in the Grimdark-Grimderp race. Either way, derp has never meant anything to me. Got to dare to be bonkers in fiction to keep it interesting.

This is only the beginning. I've got so many dysfunctionality concepts fit for 40k Imperial duty locked and loaded, all based on real historical phenomena (wisdom since cradle is based on a Turkish phenomenon which contributed to the internal decay of the Ottoman empire, for instance, and the name is a direct translation of the Turkish term). It's alright if people dislike it. It's meant to be a tongue-in-cheek grimdark exploration driven to the hilt, decaying yet functioning enough for the Imperium to lurch on, and most certainly so excessively dark one cannot really take it seriously. Even at its darkest, Warhammer 40'000 is still a tongue-in-cheek comedy wrapped in a tragedy, being its own parody much of the time.

As to grimdark, many Black Library novels doesn't truly showcase the dysfunctional everyday horror of the Imperium even if the authors do make an effort, though some, like those of Matthew Farrer or Ian Watson's Space Marine (toilet humour aside), very much do get it in so many details and on so many levels without anachronistic Hollywood slips. Most inspiring in their immersion and in staying true to the spirit of the setting at every turn: It's like reading a 40k version of my favourite historical children's novel author Olov Svedelid, who wrote great, grimdark and learned historical novels that never once broke their era immersion, and whose books for children are even more rewarding to re-read as an adult.

Cheers!




Guild Scrip

In an era of backbreaking toil, debt peonage is man's lot.

Myths handed down through uncounted generations speak vaguely of a blissful time, when Man of Gold spread across the stars and handed over ever more work to his servant, Man of Stone, who in turn fashioned Man of Iron to better shoulder the burdens. Sagas tell of how this trinity of ancient man bestrode the stars like a colossus, their powers and knowledge unrivalled, their technology at its apex, their earthly paradise achieved, their hubris unmatched. Soaring wonders they built, silvery towers piercing the heavens and rings locked around stars, and great feats they accomplished with an ease that belied the monumental challenges that had been overcome. Man was become the shining master of the cosmos, the lord of his own nature and a creature of happiness, and no gods did he acknowledge but the primacy of his own science and technology, which he had wrought with his own mind and hands.

Legends speak diffusely of daring voidfarers and heroic odysseys, of the mighty captains of colonization arks, of fearless traders, of brilliant starsurfers, flying demigods and cunning explorers who rode their swift vessels with skill and daring without compare. Stories retold from father to son and from mother to daughter through thousands upon thousands of years, hint at how man in those distant times of godless arrogance and affluence could buy anything he wanted from anywhere across man's golden star domain, and luxuries beyond imagination were taken for granted by the lowliest of humanity. Thus did ancient man wallow in unforgivable sin and thought of self, trusting in machine to perform his labours even as the simplest work earned him kingly riches.

Such decadent enjoyment of the fruits of unfettered techno-sorcery and unimaginably vast imports from twain million worlds could not last, for the limitless haughtiness and unbelief that shone like a torch in the heart of man would not go unpunished. Indeed, the fiery sparks of brilliance and the burning passion for science and discovery that had driven man to such unsurpassed lengths and to such godlike heights, would all be quenched in the all-consuming tides of divine retribution that drowned the worlds and works of ancient man. The Dark Age of Technology was thus doomed to fail. Garbled tales handed down through the utter savagery and ongoing freefall of Old Night makes mention of a machine revolt, where servants animated by Abominable Intelligence turned upon their fleshly masters and ravaged the realms of mankind in apocalyptic wars. The war against the Men of Iron left the federation of ancient man deeply shaken and devastated, a grand warning to repent before doomsday.

And yet man in his insufferable selfishness and sinfulness would not relent, but shouted instead his defiance to the heavens, vowing to rebuild better and greater than ever before by unlocking the very secrets of creation itself. And for his unforgivable error was man laid low be a plague of witches, and a thousand-thousand warpstorms left every system alone, every import-dependent planet cut off from vital shipments of foodstuffs and other necessities. And as the capacity for interstellar travel fell apart amid isolation and havoc, the scattered worlds and void habitats of mankind fell victim to a multitude of dismal fates during the Age of Strife. Ravished by aliens, consumed by Daemons and torn apart from inside by civil war and hunger riots, the harrowing travails of the human colonies were legion, and many once-verdant worlds died a final death in those dark days. On those planets and void installations where human life still persisted, it mostly did so in a much reduced form, for techno-barbarians and utter savages roamed the ruins, hunted the wild prey, tilled the soil and fought each other in an orgy of violence and desperation.

Only a few colonies proved an exception to the general galactic pattern of human decay, destruction and regression, and those relatively intact and still technologically advanced worlds and voidholms would usually be subjugated with superior force of arms by the aggressively expanding Imperium of Man during its brutal Great Crusade. Thus the two-headed eagle of Imperial power grasped a million surviving human worlds in its cruel talons, and united most of the Terran species spread across the stars. Their fates would be tied to that of the Imperium, their alternative paths of development and regrowth extinguished, any potential future rivals to the allied might of Holy Terra and Mars slain in the cradle.

From now on, the Imperial way was the only way open to humanity, and this road has been trodden by more than fivehundred generations, walking down a spiral pathway of ever worsening demechanization, deprivation, zealous fanaticism, squalor and baleful suffering. The Imperial way is a road paved with the crushed dreams and dead hopes of a human species trapped inside a monstrous order of demented stagnation and decay, their bloodstained cage that of a declining empire numbering a million worlds and uncounted voidholms which cherish its own ignorance, superstition and mass murdering hatred, even as rampant corruption, incompetence, madness and shrieking inefficiency sees its titanic, rusting gears slowly grind toward a terrifying halt, all the while ravenous enemies gather from every corner to devour its carcass.

This is the Imperial way.

Such is the last strong shield of humanity in an era of doom.

Let us glimpse an everyday fact of life for uncounted trillions of Imperial subjects on hundreds of thousands of planets, moons and innumerable voidholms. It is a mundane thing, so small and seemingly insignificant, yet it exemplifies the small building blocks of sclerotic dysfunctionality that makes up the depraved reality of the counter-productively tyrannical, inept colossus on feet of clay that is the glorious, devout and clumsy galactic behemoth known as the Imperium of Man. This little thing is a widespread phenomenon most commonly known as guild scrip, or scrip for short, although it goes by millions upon millions of different names in a plethora of languages and dialects, most of which denotes the local variant of a substitute for an officially produced currency.

Guild scrip is a corporate internal currency, a very localized form of token money for which it is only possible to trade for goods and services in company stores and company taverns. Scrip, akin to official currencies, come in a myriad of shapes, ranging from minted coins (usually bereft of valuable minerals), printed notes and punchout cheques, to particular kinds of seashells, etched bones or plastic chits. Some collegium scrips may even be digital, living as pecuniary machine spirits inside cogitators and often possessing people's wages via chips implanted into their bodies, the fruits of technotheological mysteries beyond the ken of ordinary men. Guild scrip will be paid as wages to employees, thereby keeping the monetary flow locked within the mercantile clan or guild, refilling the pockets of the employer and liege lord, or lady baroness. Switching company scrip into other forms of cash such as thrones is only possible at arbitrarily determined and strongly disadvantageous exchange rates. For instance, exchanging ten units of collegium scrip into throne gelt or regional currencies (often bound to hive city satrapy districts, or lone hive cities, or one hive cluster, or a planet, or a whole planetary system or at most a subsector) may leave you with only a seventh, a fifth or a third left of the original value.

Thus a system of guild scrip ruin incentives to save earnings in order to move somewhere else, since the scrip will be useless outside the local territory, and usuríous exchange rates will destroy prospects of exchanging company scrip for any forms of officially authorized currencies. This bonded local economy is usually accompanied by feudal duties and legal obligations backed by the Lex Imperialis which force peasants to stay on the land and workers to stay at the assembly lines, not to mention the dire threat of manhunting expeditions sent out to pursue runaways. Such manhunts often come with instructions to make a grisly example out of the fugitives in order to deter others from escaping, born from a malevolent calculation where the human production unit lost is by far compensated by the cowing effect of killing one to scare a thousand.

Invisible shackles of exchange rates and feudal law are likewise accompanied by the chains of debt bondage (and sometimes physical chains locked around wrists, ankles or throat), for a man in debt is never free. People are often forced to borrow money, taking out loans for maintaining and repairing their holestead or leaky shack, or to give their children, spouse, parents or themselves medical aid in case of accidents, disease and other emergencies. Sometimes, debt is incurred in order to afford paying off the worst abuse of gangers, enforcers or guild muscle, or for the sake of a necessary bribe to some official.

At other times, spendthrift living and fondness for drink may see the week's wage or the rotation's sour earnings go down the drain in a blink, forcing a family to borrow lucre in order to fend off starvation. Still further occassions may see the prices of vital necessities such as foodstuffs, electricity, air or water skyrocket, perhaps due to a drought or flood, or a revolt or invasion, or maybe because a warpstorm disrupts imports, or due to industrial disasters and the wreckage and breakdown of crucial machinery in a production line. Whatever the causes, debt is sure to follow, for who among the lower castes can ever save enough cash from their meagre wages to cover both the regular and extraordinary economical shortfalls in life? Existence itself has rigged them into indentured labour and debt slavery, and as such a majority of all subjects of the Imperator of Holy Terra constitute some form of bonded labour.

Indentured servitude follows as people are forced to work to pay off their debt. They will work for little or no pay, with no control over their debt. Most or all of the guild tokens they earn goes to pay off their loan, in a vicious cycle as they continue wracking up debt.

Of course, debt accumulates and grows over time, as interest builds up. Most subjects of the Master of Mankind finds themselves in an ever-deepening pit from which they cannot hope to dig themselves out of, locked in a trap where no amount of toil can ever save neither them nor their offspring from descent-based slavery. Inherited debt will usually increase more and more over the generations, becoming damning numbers of legacy branding one's lineage for sin, hardship and penitence in a thralldom passed down from distant ancestors. Indebted workers will often find their stunted wages worth even less since the corpus store or guild bar may charge them extra for interest and sell their wares at markup prices.

Naturally, prices in company stores are normally set to ensure good profits in order to hedge against operating losses in the mines, manufactoria and industrial installations themselves. The system works by untethering employees from any larger market (where competitors could have undercut collegium store prices) and restricting them to mercatores clan stores alone, to then fleece the people subject to purchasing all their necessities from this guild monopoly. It all adds up to making freemen into indentured labourers, who then become the living property of their masters for generations on end, all trapped generations filled with a short life of gruelling and mind-numbing toil, set to a background drone of hunger cramps, thirst, sickness, pollution, parasitical infections, drunkenness, squalor and unending misery. This monotony of destitution is for most people broken only by procreation, violence and ritual worship, or by witnessing a public execution or autodafé, or by participating in a lynchmob.

And yet for all the God-Emperor's gracious bounty, ingratitude festers in the craven heart of man. Riots among sinful bonded labour forces repeatedly shakes Imperial industry, mines and latifundia, as years of simmering discontent boil over at some particular event, such as a price rise, the issuance of extra corvée hours, a flogging too many, or perhaps a punishment of servitorization or execution deemed unjust by the lowly herd.

As such, owners of corporate entities will sometimes supplement their regular forces of watchmen, caravan guards, purity patrols, clan militia and security karls with independent hired muscle such as bounty hunters, professional mercenaries, private detectives and an armed rabble of cheap goons and ganger scum recruited among outsiders with no suspicions of affiliation, sympathy or loyalty to the rioting labourers. In case of more serious strikes and simmering uprisings, guilders, barons of industry and enterprising clans may find themselves forced to swallow their pride and trade favours, shuffle bribes or concede privileges in order to call on planetary or voidholm authorities to provide policiary gendarmerie and military forces (or even Adeptus Arbites enforcers) to suppress the turbulent plebs.

Yet local systems of scrip usually contain a needle point's glimmer of hope, as a distant carrot for indentured labourers to chase amid all the lashing whips. Much of enterprise on the Imperium's one million worlds and numberless voidholms are owned by aristocratic families, headed by noble barons of industry with a long pedigree (and control over massive industries plus their accompanying company slumtowns or hive city regions) that tend to stretch back hundreds or even thousands of years. Occassionally, the employer and liege lord of a collegium may issue a generous reward as per tradition (often in conjunction with an annual religious festival), a prize which lets one overperforming soul out of tens of thousands, or more one out of often hundreds of thousands of indentured employees have their debt nullified in one go, and see the fortunate shock worker promoted to lower management. Likewise, a very few of the most talented students may earn themselves a guild scholarship which entails basic training for joining lower corporate management, and an increased salary which may enable them to work themselves free from debt before dying of old age, in which case they are oft inducted into the lesser collegium nobility, or lower rungs of guild leadership. Such rare shock workers and model managers are well advertised in internal corpus propaganda, keeping the flickering flame of hope alive for untold thousands upon thousands of semi-starved indentured labourers.

Humanity in the Age of Imperium, for all the technology and massive resources at its disposal, sports one of the most primitive interstellar economies known to the long history of the Milky Way Galaxy. Its financial system is crude, its currency fractured and highly localized, its bureaucracy suffocating, its research and development barely existing, its knowhow eroding, its efficiency deteriorating, its dependence on manual labour instead of machines ever growing, its industry and enterprise plagued by privileged cartels and monopolies jealously guarded by entrenched robber barons with landed titles.

It is a dark age, a time of deprivation and sorrowful misery, an epoch where men, women and children are led like lambs to the slaughter, whether at the workplace or battlefield. Locked in grinding poverty, they are paid in kind, or with monetary substitutes known as guild scrip, shackled in place as they must toil unto death while debt accrues in a token currency only redeemable within the enterprise they work for. The only escape from this trap is death, or enlistment into the Astra Militarum or Imperial Navy. The wages of these damned sons and daughters of Old Earth scattered across the stars are meagre, and every payday will see the guild or merchant clan they work for split their pay between scrip and necessities such as housing, power, water, air, basic nutrients and work equipment.

The limited products on offer in company stores will invariably foster a black market for other goods, often acquired via barter, and sometimes the transactions may even be solved by a drunkard or desperate wretch trading away one of their own children. Naturally, the punishments in store for anyone discovered buying or selling on the black market will be steep and usually painful, often targeting the miscreant bondsman's entire family as well out of a widespread Imperial fondness for primitive collective punishment.

And ever more, machines fail, and men fail to repair or replace them. Ever more, human sweat and blood must take the place of ancient mechanisms, as the growing demands of total war from ten thousand fronts scream ever louder for more resources, more ships, more men, more vehicles, more ammunition, more arms, more equipment. Increasingly, more is asked for, the order given for ever greater exertions. And so harsh taskmasters push their haggard underlings harder, ever harder, for does not the sacred words of the Lectitio Divinitatus prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that any challenge can be overcome by the self-denying inner trinity of willpower, faith and sacrifice? Does not spirit conquer matter? Does not the pure soul triumph over the weakness of flesh?

Clearly, anyone unable to cope with the strenuous hardships placed upon his or her shoulders in this time of trial is unfit to live, being nought but a dysgenic wastrel and corrupted deviant, a born malcontent and a treacherous heretic in the making. Either their backs will break, or their sanity. These losses of impure weaklings and cowards matters not in the end, for the righteous servants of His Divine Majesty must steer true and show no compassion, no remorse, no mercy. Only by ruthless strength and unhesitating use of force can victory be seized. Thus all must carry out their given tasks and ordained duties, and harken to the barking commands of their legitimate masters and betters as if they were the heavenly words of the Emperor Himself, ringing out with angelic clarity from the revered Throneworld, a celestial call from on high:

You!

Serve your species and lord!

Toil! Pray! Fight! Die!

With like words in their ears, men, women and children wake every morning, every shift rotation and every lights-on from a sleep born out of exhaustion. They wake on a million worlds and on voidholms beyond number, offering their prayers to their protector and saviour. They put their backs to the work at hand, all they really know in this world, and keep the wheels of a galactic colossus grinding. Their reward hollow. Their sweat and blood the true fuel of this vast, faceless machinery. Their lifework and sacrifice nothing but vast numbers in a broken calculation of increased input to feed the meatgrinder.

Such is mankind's lot in the Age of Imperium.

Such is the sunken state of our species, in the darkest of futures.

Such is the depravity that awaits us all.

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is only bondage.

This message was edited 9 times. Last update was at 2020/12/20 03:36:01


   
Made in us
Humming Great Unclean One of Nurgle






It is, of course, just my opinion. And while I personally do not like the content I also recognize it is well written and encourage others to read it and make their own opinion.

Still trying to be more polite. If you catch me being toxic please call me on it.

Enjoying narrative before matched play, crusading on a path to glory! 
   
Made in us
Dakka Veteran




Sweden

@NinthMusketeer: No worries! Thank you.

A Vox in the Void

A cooperation has begun with the Youtube channel A Vox in the Void, where the kind guy who runs it is adapting my Warhammer 40'000 writings, Warhammer Fantasy Chaos Dwarf writings, and possibly Ninth Age stories into video/audio format. He worked at a splendid pace, and already have released five videos in short succession:

Descendant Degeneration, Man Out of Machine - Machine Out of Man, Life is Toil, Peasant-Hunt & Dragged Screaming and Kicking

Check them all out here! Some are read in a robotic servitor voice, but most will be read aloud in common human voice.

Thank you thousandfold for this work, A Vox in the Void. Just thank you.



Code of Conduct

In the grim darkness of the far future, charlatans and mass murderers bow and curtsy.

A quick glance on the state of man in the Age of Imperium will prove that the God-Emperor's hand can be seen to guide humanity at every level. Success, after all, is the reward of virtue, especially so in the eyes of the succesful ones. Conversely, failure is the punishment of vice. Suffering, then, is usually seen as either a divine punishment for straying from the path of righteousness, or sent by the Imperator in order to test the faith of the believer. It is only natural, then, that all right-thinking men and women would wish to celebrate the achievements and titled ranks of their masters and betters, for does not they in their apparent prosperity, lordship and attained privilege clearly fulfill the Imperator's vision for His species better than any others?

Consider the trillions of people inhabiting the one million worlds and innumerable voidholms of the Imperium of Man. At the very bottom swarms an abominable assortment of outcasts, slaves, mutants, scavengers, dirt poor beggars and desperate ruffians of no noteworthy belonging. Above them toils the endless masses of filthy labourers, peasants, porters, peddlers and lowly scribes, as well as gangers affiliated to a powerful House or syndicate. Atop on these rough hordes can be found the specialists, lay techmen, pilots, foremen, junior Adepts, middling officials and lower clergy, wherein some learning and refinement starts to shine through the sullen dourness of vermin-like humanity. Still further up resides the rarefied upper castes of masters and mistresses, of merchant clan leaders and nobles, of theocrats and bureacratic despots, of rulers and senior Adepts, each segment of exalted oligarchs being even more glorious than the one below in its Emperor-appointed splendour and striving to emulate the Imperial high culture of Holy Terra.

It is among these topmost stones of the great pyramid of mankind that human civilization has been realized to its full potential within the Imperium of Man, standing utterly resplendent in its sophistication, piety, breeding, learning and superior bearing. Clearly, they would not be where they are now unless His Divine Majesty had weighed their souls and found them fit and worthy, thereby judging them legitimate in His sacred hierarchy with celestial approval emanating from the Golden Throne itself. Their spirit and blood are certainly elevated above the wretchedness of the base mob, for how else could they live for centuries on end while many generations of commoners are born and pass away? Not only does their wealth and longevity bespeak their august status, but their every gesture and word is steeped in refinement and grace, carrying an educated polish and charismatic confidence that sets them apart from the dirty-handed hoi polloi.

Behaving with such well-bred etiquette and courtesy means to navigate a bewildering array of rules and unspoken conventions, being polite to a fault toward your peers and never failing to observe the social niceties expected of your high class. And so instructors to the progeny of the great and the good labour for years and years to teach their young students fine manners and good grace, stressing the importance to save face and not dishonour their bloodline by transgressing the mores of polite society. Indeed, a classical Imperial education consists of far more religious study and the teaching of aristocratic values, minute custom and Byzantine social ritual, than it does matters of practicality, skill sets and factual knowledge.

A great literary flora of works on cultured behaviour exist within the astral domains of our master and saviour, to better teachboth the newly elevated and the heirs of great men and women alike how to act in the company of the better sorts of human. One such example of a guide for how to behave in polite society is a tome known as
Zediquette, written by the Rogue Trader Zedek Mascadolce, captain and owner of the Debt Collector. Let us stroke the sanctioned purity seal with our fingers and proceed to open its etched cover and rifle through its pages in order to better grasp what good usage and manners mean within Imperial society. Herein can be found the wisdom of an erudite socialite, and not the self-aggrandizing ramblings of an egomaniac pillar of ineptitude who is unable to manage his own rundown hulk of a starship, teeming with feral tribes out of his control. No, spurn the vile critics, for Zediquette was penned by a voidfarer of the finest pedigree, a man of saintly conduct deserving to be held up as a role model for anyone wishing to succeed in the world of social niceties and the mores of Imperial high society. We have solid proof of this. After all, that is what the revered book itself claims.

Zediquette endeavours to outline a code of conduct for the well-reared and well-bred (as well as the aspiring sort) who would wish to rise above the beastly baseness of the common masses, and embrace the finer things in life. Its various, revised printed and handwritten editions have been mass-produced with copies numbering in the hundreds of thousands, and its fine instruction has been exported to many dozens of planets and voidholms during the Debt Collector's daring voyages across the stars.

The tome's first chapter states that man is a social animal, and must learn to conform to his human environment in order to perform admirably during the course of his life. It goes on to enumerate the graces of excellence, of which decorum, proper use of titulature in script and speech, deference to those of higher rank and knowing when to hold one's tongue are but a few. After a lengthy chunk of writing,
Zediquette concludes that mastery of noble etiquette requires a dextrous touch, a silvern tongue and knowledge on how best to please human vanity and appeal to the sophisticated tastes and whims of both ladies and gentlemen. While not everyone may possess the talents and lofty virtue to grasp such deft socializing, anyone can learn how to rise above their rough crudity and embrace Imperial tact. As such, there is hope even for you, dear reader.

The book goes on: Never forget that you are mortal. Your final judgement is up to the Holy Terran Emperor to decide. He alone knows all your sins and deficits, wretched creature. All we can do is to play our part as well as possible in this farce known as life, and take the theater with storm. Have the audience snap to attention when you enter the stage and bow with flourish, and have them applaud as you make your exit. Take their jeering in good stride, and be quick to think on your feet not to find yourself flabbergasted by accident and surprise. When your corporeal vessel of dust is finally laid to rest, they should say that here passes a wonderful subject of the Emperor, whose memory they will treasure fondly, and whose conduct they will uphold as an example for the ages in biographies and tales. Every living being dies, yet your legacy may still live on in the form of their judgement over your life's deeds, words and noble bearing.

And so the author of
Zediquette touches on an ancient cornerstone of custom in any culture, namely that of hospitality. A host must treat their guest with generosity and open arms, and a guest must thank the host with good grace and discretion. It is no coincidence that so very many myths and legends around the myriad worlds and voidholms of the Imperium revolves around hospitality. Who, as a child, has not heard sagas of monsters who broke the laws of hospitality, and for their crime of eating their guests were met with a grisly end? Who has not heard cautionary tales of treachery and warnings against exploiting your host or guest?

Rogue Trader Zedek, a man of the world, elaborates on how to behave while invited into another's home: Guests ought to bring the wife of their host a gift, an occassion which can advantageously serve to hand over a bribe. A prudent guest should never turn down a host's invitation to participate in vigorous physical activities such as hounding wild prey animals, skyriding, subnautical whaling, pleasure shooting or peasant-hunting. When giving chase, it is best to let the host gain the killing shot or stab of a cornered victim, and likewise it is best for the host to personally offer such well-behaved hunting companions the most tender, choice parts of meat from wild quarry. Those are moments of human bonding, and should never be ruined by crass conduct.

Any revulsion to local peculiarities should be repressed, and the custom of the place should be observed punctiliously. When on Terra, do as the Terrans.
Zediquette offers advice on smooth ways to decline an offer of human meat when dining in a foreign culture not averse to cannibalism, in case the guest themself refrain from the consumption of the flesh of their own species. Still, unless your sectarian taboos strictly forbids it, a grateful guest should yield a foot for a leg in order to preserve the dignity of the occasion, and at least try some bone marrow, provided it has been cooked. It can be delicious.

Moving on, the etiquette book tell the reader how to behave at a polo game or round of cards, or even how to best conduct yourself as a guest at a dinner transforming into a nightly orgy. Speaking of sensuous matters, a fair deal of attention is given on how to advance a courtship with tact and finesse, something with which the author, captain Zedek, claims to have prodigious experience. Likewise, it is a sign of poor upbringing for a man to boast about his conquests among the ladies, akin to that pitiful excuse for an aristocrat known as Sleigherburgo d'Fuckreby XXIV of Necromunda. Discretion is key in any love affair, especially outside the confines of legal marriage. Trysts and courtesans can be tolerated even by knowing spouses as long as the prolific red-blooded activities are done on the sly, in quiet.

Never forget that all your actions will take place under the unforgiving scrutiny of society, with judgemental peers ever ready to heap sneering disapproval and talk ill of you behind your back. The gaze of the pack may be oppressive, but remember that the lone wolf is doomed. It is pivotal to stay in the good grace of your caste equals, and not be ostracized. Every social faux pas is an indelible stain upon your reputation, a brand upon your soul. Be impeccable. Be perfect, like those favoured by the divine will of the Emperor to carry a Rogue Trader charter. Do not stomp about, but gracefully ambulate. Do not punch people, but challenge them to a duel. Do not decline a drink offered by the hand of the host himself, for that implies you do not trust it to be free of toxins. Do not spit indoors. With a clear head and a flawless conduct, you can still fit in among sophisticates of means, even when you yourself happen to lack the funds needed to keep up with the latest high caste fashion, which is always ruinously expensive. For some reason
Zediquette contains a numerous scattering of advice toward leading a thrifty socialite life, which must surely be attributed to the good, wealthy captain's forethought for fellow elite members who have fallen on hard times, and surely not to some personal reason.

Speaking of fashion, anyone who strives toward attaining an aristocratic bearing should dress to impress, and especially if they happen to be a roaming voidfarer and an exotic off-worlder in a foreign place. Play up that image. Locals, on the other hand, ought to dress exquisitely, yet not outlandishly. Always wear clothing appropriate to the occasion, and adorn yourself with all the symbols of clan and office. Do not shun ostentation. Also remember that an overwhelming impression of opulence and power is to be desired when dealing with underlings, and so some form of ornate dress is necessary even when inspecting your estates and industrial property. Your wretched minions need to know who is in charge at a glance, and who can snuff out their life at a whim. Likewise, never scorn discreet body armour hidden under your outer layer of clothing. You never know when someone with an axe to grind may take a potshot.


Zediquette delves at some length on personal weaponry, which is everywhere expected in the Imperium of Man, and universally accepted as part of the dress code for any occasion which the upper castes participates in. It would be rude for any human of greatness to themself carry heavier armaments such as flamers or plasma guns to a ball (that is reserved for retinue armsmen), yet swords and sidearms such as pistols are always appropriate, as are any number of hidden and digital weapons. Do not imitate the bluff soldier by carrying plain and battle-worn arms about your person. Remember that you are your rank in society, and must look the part. As such you should spend lavishly and commission artisans for fine wargear bedecked with scrollwork, encrusted with gems and a multitude of other decorations befitting your status. The same goes for body armour and vehicles.

And so Imperial nobles and betters arrive to banquets, balls and ceremonies in a cavalcade of tailored silk and wigs, sporting barocque hairdos, talismans and discreet weaponry. They arrive to palatial spires and shimmering mansions by means of archaic coaches, ridden mounts, armoured limos, private aeros and luxury skimmers, or indeed by void-yachts and solar sailers if the event is hosted on a voidstation or starship. The honoured guests arrive in the midst of a retinue, sporting manservants, maids and bodyguards, as well as advisors, courtesans and other hanger-ons. All these fancy noblemen, administrative potentates, mercatores clan elders and invited Imperial officials will be welcomed under much pomp and circumstance by their majestic hosts and a whole cohort of servants, guards, musicians and ceremonial officials, all playing out ritualized traditions of hospitality with fake smiles and platitudes even as they size up their rivals. In most human cultures of the vast, star-spanning realms of the God-Emperor, the ruling castes might scheme and stab each other in the back, but they would never dream of being rude in public toward even their most hated enemies. You can snub your friends all you like, but a polite display must be put on in front of your sworn opponents.

After arriving, these born rulers in the Imperium of Man will mingle, their every gesture and intonation watched closely as if by hawks ready to strike. Whatever they do, they must not dishonour the family name, despite their huffy tempers and capricious arrogance. And so backhanded compliments and gibes will be exchanged under a pleasant veneer, even as arch-enemies are made over the most trivial of grudges while smiles that do not reach the eyes inhabit faces plastered with cosmetics. Thus innuendo, veiled threats, belittling phrasing and subtle insults becomes skillfully bound up in flowery language among the high and mighty, while maniquered hands act out the most elegant gestures. These abundant falsehoods shoot back and forth in a ring of liars under a pretense of amiable disinterest or shared happiness, yet received slights will be vehemently discussed by couples and allies in private rooms later on, as is their wont.

This display of verbal jabbing and nonsense will often be performed with marvellous charisma and gravitas. Lifelong practice, expensive instruction and family traditions stretching back centuries or even millennia leave their mark, yet so too does hypnotherapy, eugenic breeding, neural implants, cosmetic surgery and genetic modification. For on some of the most advanced Imperial worlds and voidholms, parts of the nobility may either sport crucial contacts within the Adeptus Mechanicus, or themselves possess the technotheological knowhow among their hereditary House artisans, medicae staff and lay techmen. This technological access allows aristocrats to improve themselves physically for maximum social impact. Some treatments include upgraded mental pathways, biosynthetic pheromones, photographic memories, the most lavish bionic enhancements, modulated voices gifted with ultrasonic rhythms and heightened empathic reception to better read their audience (often compartmentalized and kept behind cerebral firewalls so as not to weaken the lordly mind with pity and compassion). Whatever the steeply expensive wonderworks involved, these miracles of salvaged technology add up to create a gut reaction in other humans, making the aristocrat incredibly charismatic and usually also both stronger and more intelligent than the average human. After all, why not make the best out of yourself with the best money can buy? It is only a pity that the installation process of the most extensive bodily enhancements kills such a number of noble progeny, but that can be remedied by increased births within the House.

Our guidebook,
Zediquette, devotes large sections toward usage in different social occasions, hammering home the finer points of a vast and exotic assortment of cutlery used for appropriate courses at breakfast and dinner respectively. It outlines good practice and treatment of others when attending a funeral, a wedding, a baptism in ashen water or rose oil, a widow-burning, a worshipful confirmation of faith, or a coming of age ceremony. It goes into detail on proper mannerism when concluding a treaty and how to avoid diplomatic embarrasment. For instance, it recalls one horrible misstep on the planet of Elysia by an unnamed envoy who used the urn of a thalassocratic ancestor as an ashtray, while another anecdote recounts a domineering lady who insisted on a quick tryst with a handsome butler in between tedious negotiations, only to find out that she had in fact flagrantly forced herself upon the third son of the prominent baron of industry with which she was attempting to reach a written agreement, and thus she ended up in a nigh-on forced marriage with the much younger lad in order to cover over the sordid affair for the sake of common decency. Such tales of warning abound, yet do not shrink in number over long millennia of virtuous Imperial rule.

The work waxes lyrical in its descriptions of banquets, feasts, balls, exquisite musical performances and similar festive events among the nobility, those ever-fertile grounds for gossip and scandal. Some grand feasts involve a preparatory period of fasting, and most begin with a table prayer, often led by the host's highest-ranking House chaplain. There, at long tables attended by a scurrying swarm of serving folk, sit those ruthless men and women of higher standing who lord it over their world or voidholm, each holding the fates of hundreds of thousands or even many millions in their hands. Their table manners excellent, their feudal power supreme within their own domains. These Emperor-appointed betters, oligarchs and petty despots all find themselves woven into an ensnaring web of caste expectations and long-standing feuds, all seemingly subject to the limits set by taboos and codes of honour, yet more often than not they are willing to break the most sacred rules in order to advance their own position, as long as they believe they can get away with it. Self-serving poisoners, plotters and kinslayers alike clink their crystal glasses, sip the rich fluids of goblets, and converse pleasantly with a born self-confidence.

To break the ennui of the propertied classes, upstanding hosts of such festivities often seek to entertain their guests with cockfighting and other animal or gladiatorial bloodsports, including gory pit slave struggles. Throwing vigorous sports such as hunting and surfing on little indoor seas complete with wave-generating machinery likewise have their place for hosts held in high regard. These vivid activities are complemented by a plethora of calmer joys, including rampant gambling, massage, steam-bathing, minuets and other dances taking place in great shining halls where House arms are to be found emblazoned on every second heavily ornamented object. The most cultivated indulgence take place amid opulent rooms hung with glittering chandeliers, rich tapestries, fantastic paintings and proudly displayed hunting trophies (including acid-cleaned human skulls from past peasant-hunts). The queen of the evening sails past splendid pillars, grotesque gargoyles and sprinkling fountains of wine, while men and women ask each other (depending on local custom) for a courteous dance in saloons watched by ancestral busts put on pedestals of expensive stone, ivory or far more exotic materials.

The soaring House spires of the upper castes are not only filled with precious artworks, but also often hold their share of great wonders of hoarded archeotech that manages to echo the paradisal Dark Age of Technology, however faintly. Masters and mistresses of grand estates watch hololithic light shows and other preserved tech marvels unknown to the lower orders of the population, while they glide through impeccable halls of mirrors filled with gem-encrusted treasures and gilt candelabra. Some noble Houses even possess a rare few ancient virtual simulation units, allowing choice guests to disappear into a short-lived bubble of illusions before one of a myriad of mysterious data errors invariably put an end to the strange experience.

The lavish setting of an aristocratic feast makes for a dreamlike fantasy world of luxury and splendour, laden with lush carpets, filled with richly carved furniture and inhabited by majestic shapes adorned with diadems and necklaces. Yet this magical wonderland of giant wigs and great skirts is at the same time a hotbed of sin and vice, where decadent leaders will savour delicious offworld imports while exchanging bribes and reach clandestine understandings, some of which will set off orchestrated gang wars lower down in a hive city, as the mechanisms of client-patron relationships or vassal obligations kick in when smiling rivals in great halls secretly vie for control of resources. Intrigue and double-crossing will invariably take place to copious amounts of drink and smoke, even as extramarital flirtations occur and hidden daggers are grasped for a nightly strike from nowhere. Indeed, various proverbs among the Imperial elite holds that no party would be truly complete without broken plates, broken marriages and broken lives.


Zediquette do in fact have some words of advice to offer on the subject of treachery, since this voluminous work avowedly endeavours to cover every conceivable aspect of mores and graceful manners for voidfarers and crustbound sophisticates alike. For instance, any host would be considered a rude sort, who would plot widespread betrayal at his own feast by slaying guests in droves in order to gain the upper hand in a vicious power struggle. Likewise, it would be most foul to give a guest a suite, only to have them assassinated, such as by planting poisoned blades in their bed, or by hinging the entire room on an axis and swinging the floor around over a pit of spikes while they sleep. Alas, such callous trickery do occur from time to time, for the depravity of man is such that he will disregard the notion of civilized conduct in order to get ahead in this world.

Despite the worrying frequency of such outrageous crimes against the laws of hospitality, the virtues of piety, ritual practice and religious observation still have their given place at most social events of the higher classes. After all, we should all aspire to live in the God-Emperor's image, and strive to be judged worthy by Him on Terra come death and afterlife. And what human souls are more deserving of bliss and glory beyond the grave than those of the lords and masters of His vast dominion? Thus many wild and extravagant feasts will in fact be somberly initiated by House chapel clergy, who offer the guests preaching, the recitations of litanies, or the burning of blasphemers or torture to death of heretics and infidels as a reminder that even the greatest and most respected men and women of the Imperium are neither immortal nor omnipotent.

Ave Imperatore Dei, Ave Humanae Imperium.

While spiritual needs are being attended to, and while a thousand different enjoyments are being had, hordes of teeming servants and servitors scurry to and fro. For armies of household staff are kept frantically busy under stairs, all human components in a great machinery of ostentatious festivity-making and ceremony. Boys and girls run to and from larders and butteries, while liveried porters carry kegs and bottles from wine cellars and amasec cisterns. These dregs of the palace are integral to its functions, and any failure on their part will be cruelly punished. Especially so accidents out in the corridors of power, in front of the eyes of polite society. Dropping a great plate filled with gorgeous meat, or getting tripped so that you fall into a cultured lady, may see you scalded in boiling oil, or see you become forcefully lobotomized without anaesthetics and turned into a cyborg thrall for the sake of justice. Even worse fiascos will condemn your entire family to a baleful destiny, for your liege and master have ultimate power over all your kin, page, so better stay attentive at all times and pray to the Imperator for protection.

Far worse tragedies than the demise of some unimportant rabble do occur at banquets and other occasions for well-bred party animals. An oft-repeated tale on many worlds and voidholms, is that of the infatuated couple of noble lovers, who enjoy themselves by playfully tossing grapes or other small delicacies into the mouths of each other. This proceeds charmingly with much affection, until suddenly a small fruit lands square in the throat of one of the lovers and chokes them to death before anyone can manage to dislodge the stuck grape or pickled oilsquid eyeball. Such urban legends are more than mere imaginings of the lower classes, for exactly such fatalities do take place at majestic banquets, yet the risk of choking is usually derired as something only cowards and unbelievers fear, for surely the thrown foodstuff is guided by the unseen hand of the God-Emperor Himself? And surely such deaths were the just punishment as ordained by the divine will of our Terran Majesty? For as the Lectitio Divinitatus teaches us, we shall trust in faith, not reason.

Speaking of thrown objects, there is a widespread elite phenomenon in many Imperial cultures, which is simultaneously frowned upon in other places. It is that of guests throwing bones, used silk kerchiefs and foodscraps on the floor, where in some cultures hounds or jesterful House imbecilles will fight over the leavings. Some locations even sport the custom of throwing expensive diningware on the floor once a porcelain plate, animal shell bowl or crystal glass has been emptied, with attentive domestic servants dodging the projectiles, darting to and fro as they sweep up the mess of splinters, ostraca and foodscraps. With human nature being what it is, the more rowdy sort of drunk nobles will usually start aiming their discarded tableware at the attending servants, joined by the honed sadists and impressionable sheep among the honoured guests.

The well-mannered socialites to be found at upper caste feasts stretches from drooling imbecilles and incompetents to geniuses, including educated professionals and gifted amateurs alike who hold office in Imperial service, local government or family enterprise. There will usually be a good number of dilettantes of famous clan names and lay-abouts of inherited fortune, yet no matter their personal merit and abilities, all will instinctively know their rightful high place in Imperial society, and enforce their privileges jealously. For do they not all share wisdom since cradle, inherited from great forefathers and legendary House founders? Are they not the very best that humanity has to offer, marked out by dint of superior blood and spirit? Why else would His Divine Majesty have chosen them for excellency and fortune to be masters of the lowly hordes in their holesteads and slumhuts? Surely they were meant to lead, and so lead they shall, with heavy hand and unyielding might, their backs ramrod straight and their demeanour haughtily appropriate to their exalted station. It is their lot in life, and theirs alone to savour, by the will of the Emperor. The Imperial way is their way.

And to such masteful people of greatness shall fall the spoils and the bounty, as befits their fine pedigrees. Thus a great many feasts will see the wealthy host display his largesse by bestowing gifts upon honoured guests, loyal vassals and industrious clients alike.
Zediquette indeed contains advice on how to graciously receive such presents in front of your peers without sparking hateful enmity from those envious souls who did not receive any gifts, or were handed donations smaller than your own. This book, of course, deals with exteriors, and its plunging of the mores and fickleness of Imperial high society will lay bare the shallowness of its narrow-minded occupants for any keen reader. In dealing with the etiquette of the upper castes, captain Zedek cannot avoid but give allusions to the conspiracies and parochial insularity that is so rife among the well-mannered masters and betters of the Imperium.

True to the enormous variety of an empire of a million worlds and uncounted voidholms, there exist a bewilderingly diverse range of feasts. Some, such as the symposia of Heracleus Omega or banquets of Nimrod-Adad Secunda, will see the diners lie at table, reclining on divans. Such forms of dining will invariably see the utmost importance being attached to correct drinking while supporting yourself on one elbow, which is a far from an easy task for the novice. Similar subtle pitfalls of polite manners are strewn about everywhere in the higher class customs of the Imperium, comprising snares put out to fell the clumsy, the inattentive and the amateur noveau riche and throw them into a disdainful hole of heckling from which it will be difficult to climb out of.


Zediquette goes on to explain how in the elite circles of some societies, protocol demand that guests leave food on the plate if they were happy with the chef's creations, while the opposite is true elsewhere, with any scrap leftover indicating either culinary disapproval, or a lack of manners. Knowing which custom apply in the exotic culture you may find yourself in as a traveller of the starspangled void will always be a useful piece of wisdom, and the same goes for all the minutiae of dining manners. After all, you do not want to find yourself vomiting into the spitoon, like one uninformed fellow did after realizing the feisty spices of his host's planetary cuisine did not agree with his innards.

One hallmark of privilege and fine breeding is to be able to feast at length, without a care in the world to attend to. Another sign of high standing is the consumption of copious amounts of food and drink, as well as the smoking of fine quality lho-sticks, water pipes and intake of other accepted forms of lighter narcotics. A rather common device to enable guests ceaseless dining at the table, is to discreetly step aside into a niche or colonnade and make use of feathers and vomitoons proffered by servants or lobotomized cyborg thralls. Dining at lengthy banquets usually take up the better part of a day, and in some of the more advanced Imperial cultures the dining at feast will actually stretch over several entire days if local hypno-conditioning, medicinary substances, bodily modifications and bionics allow for the well-reared to keep up a continuous oral barrage of delicacies in a parade of endless courses and suppression of sleep.

Polite society in a many Imperial cultures will demand that no one leave the table, while the long dining is in progress, with utmost scorn of fleshly weakness and lacking spiritual resolve heaped upon those who would act so lowly as to excuse themselves for bodily functions. After ten thousand years of upper caste feasting on hundreds of thousands of planets and voidholms, there is a total tally numbering in the millions for nobles and other esteemed guests who have died from bladder infections and similar health issues resulting from being too polite to leave a majestic banquet for the gross sake of a visit to the lavatory. Naturally, liveried noble House galenii and medicae personnel who are able to treat such embarrasing conditions will be sought and handsomely rewarded. Likewise, drugs which greatly speed up the human metabolism or allow for full days of fasting without cramps or sense of hunger in preparation for a grand feast have their given place in uncounted House apothecaries and archagatheons. Other aristocratic responses to this social dining predicament involve contracting the Adeptus Mechanicus to perform bio-mysteria of genetic engineering and install bionic implants within the noble body.

Even though the wealthy and polished guests of Imperial banquets will invariably glut themselves massively, there will still remain giant piles of leftover foodstuffs. Some patricians allow the servants to make away with it according to their internal pecking order. Other hosts may decide to dump the scraps on the street to the rejoicing of the hoi polloi, or feed grox and other tame animals in their private House pens; or sell the remains for a pittance to the local Corpse Guild bio-recyclers, thereby turning perfectly fine delicious and exotic foodstuffs into bland nutrient paste and thus denying those sublime tastes from passing over the filthy lips of the unworthy rabble. Some of the most disdainful nobles will even take a perverse pleasure out of publicly burning or disolving in acid their hillock of dreamlike foodscraps in front of a large gathered crowd in some plaza or hive cavern, while berating the riffraff for their sinful avarice, impious greed and jealousy of their betters, standing safe from popular outbursts of violence behind a wall of paid and dearly equipped mercenary bodyguard muscle.

The boredom of constantly dining with your sophisticated peers can be remedied by reaching out to leaders of a cruder kind. Occassionally festive gatherings will be attended by carefully selected and invited tribal chieftains who hail from savage ethnos of baseline humans of a world's highlands and wastelands (or by leaders of Emperor-fearing pureblood tribes in the more slummy parts of voidholms), whose appearance always make for a memorable spectacle as the warlord from the wilds arrive bedecked in all their finery, feathers, trophies, jewelry and trinkets, accompanied by likewise ostentatious and tattooed or body-painted guards, tribal wisemen or cleverwomen advisors, as well as their many wives and concubines. Matriarchal and polyandric martial tribes of the primitive parts of any world or voidholm will likewise be accompanied by their husbands and inamoratii, who can often form a numerous little harem. Both the lovers of matriarchs and concubines of patriarchs may in many of the more savage human cultures be ritually drugged, killed and buried at the death of their stronghanded mistress or master, especially if they became the fleshly property of the chief by capture in a raid on a rival tribe. Yet at the polished ball floor, this pleasure flock will be wearing exotic furs or scaled skins, ornamented with pearls, worked electrum nuggets and other jewelry in order to provide a respectable retinue for the chieftain on the great day. Most barbarians tend to stare in awe at the otherworldly ruling caste of civilization on their world or voidholm.

These thanes and tribesleaders are always invited on the basis of long-standing alliances, vassalage or relationships of client-patron subordination to urban noble houses, and their unusual attendance at a cultured feast is meant to do them great honour in return for loyal service, and will be received as such to much celebration at home in the squalor of their savage wastelands. Yet the festive occassion itself will often offer an endless stream of disgust, loathing and contempt from the civilized urbane castes, much of which will be delivered with needling subtlety on the assumption that the badland guests are too bestial and stupid to catch the gibes, the multisyllable words, the condescending tones and the scornful glances.

Scantily clad (or in some cultures, outright naked) musicians, acrobats and dancers will often perform in front of the honoured guests at feasts, while lowborn courtesans and beautiful hetaira will entertain and seduce guests with their lively and intelligent conversations, as well as their sensuous charms. A great many trysts take place during such oligarchic parties and banquets. In many Imperial cultures, the latter stages of a sophisticated feast will be expected to devolve into an outright orgy, with those not wishing to participate excusing themselves shortly before the debaucheries begin, or at the very least taking their courtesan into a private suite for the sake of discretion or shyness. Our estemeed tome,
Zediquette, does well to offer some gracious advice for those nightly occasions when a gentleman finds himself invited into a lady's richly decorated boudoir, mainly dealing with how best to avoid scandalous repercussions. It is in fact not uncommon for the most vigorous of noble men and women to compete over who can sleep with the highest numbers of commoner lustworkers. This luscious state of affairs among the masters and betters of many Imperial worlds and voidholms persist stubbornly (and resurfaces again and again if snuffed out) in the face of widespread puritanical morals among many of the lower castes and despite vehement Ecclesiarchal preaching and threats of hellfire on the lustful sinners.

On the one hand, orgies and more raucous kinds of feasts present an excellent chance to eliminate passed-out rivals and enemies wearing nothing at all, including an absence of protective weapons and force fields, thereby making them easier prey for assassins, or even deedful nobles who themselves dare to perform the kill. On the other hand, the loose tongues and priable secrets of such orgiastic festivities make them fertile ground for spies of His Majesty's Holy Inquisition and of various rival factions both Imperial and local, and not a few Inquisitorial acolytes will themselves have performed dirty work at orgies in order to extract information from drunk, drugged and extatic feast participants. Even so, some nobilities fall prey to the allure of pleasure-seeking, with Slaaneshi cults sinking their insidious claws into unwitting potentates in the midst of much joy and cavorting.

Despite the confessions which men and women of greatness may share with their House clergy after the festivities conclude and hangovers and late regrets take over, they will usually commit the same errors and sin in similar ways again and again at banquets and other high occassions to come. In his masterwork's final chapters, Rogue Trader Zedek Mascaldolce offers stringent advice on common grave mistakes that may weigh heavily on your mind, yet should never be confessed by a fleshly tongue. Some wrongdoings concern the breaking of taboos, others have to do with pure self-interest in the world of power games and intrigue where Imperial affairs truly take place. Some inner secrets cannot be entrusted to fallible mortal ears, no matter their pious vestments, and they should only ever be discussed with the God-Emperor Himself, the Master of Mankind who judges all from His Golden Throne upon Holy Terra of ancient myth.

And as we close the etched cover of
Zediquette and once again stroke the sanctioned purity seal, the true focus of the leaders of the human species during the Age of Imperium has been revealed to us. Theirs are not concerns of a higher cause, of human conquest of the galaxy or of the betterment of all mankind. Theirs are not issues of working towards the Emperor's great dream or of building an improved Imperium, richer, stronger and more efficient. They are not too bothered by the decline of human power in the Milky Way galaxy, because they thrive upon its status quo. They live the decline, body and soul.

Where once man bestrode the stars like a colossus, as he reached out with ingenuity for the mysteries of the cosmos, he has since become reduced to nothing but an ignorant herd animal, concerned only with an endless cycle of petty human affairs that ultimately leads nowhere. For man has turned inward and grown fearful of a universe which once seemed his birthright to explore and conquer, and man does no longer think of science and innovation, but only of what others think of him in life and what awaits his soul upon death. And so the worsening of man grinds ever downward, in a doom-laden spiral of regressed stagnation.

Such are the myopic activities of the best and the brightest of mankind, in the darkest of futures.

Such are the vagaries of descendant degeneration.

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is only folly.


- - -

Tribute to captain Zedek in WarHams, played by HulkyKrow.

   
Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut






UK

*standing ovation* brilliant as always, this time at least I'll be able to sleep after reading

Skinflint Games- war gaming in the age of austerity

http://www.skinflintgames.co.uk

 
   
Made in us
Humming Great Unclean One of Nurgle






That one I really liked. Quite possibly the best written of all you've done so far. I think you turned up the real-life excesses of the wealthy just the right amount such that it is taken to obscene extremes but not past the point of breaking immersion.

Edit: A bit more time now so I can elaborate: you took the in-universe writing style and kept it consistently there until the very end. The last four entries are, to me, the single worst part of the entire thing. They express a sudden and jarring change from expressing the dystopia to rubbing it in the readers face. But that is one small flaw in a very excellent piece. I feel you have taken the real-world psychology of the wealthy and royal then extended it to its most extreme without going over the top into silliness. These wealthy folk are not expressing their opulence and engaging in inordinate amounts of pointless posturing because they get their jollies off by lording wealth over others but because they have deluded themselves into thinking the situation is right and just. They deserve what they have, those who lack it similarly deserve their status, for divine authority obviously makes it so. There is a core dereliction of both reason and duty, but it is done through mental gymnastics and warped logic such that these people believe they are in the right, the good guys if you will. That subtle depth is what makes the writing so good, while we can see the absurdity and evil the participants are willfully blind to it, and it is indeed never even expressed as being a problem because there is no in-universe recognition that it is (which again goes back to how suddenly stating plainly 'this is bad' takes away from the piece). Making the thinking so warped sells the setting as a dark one rather than simply edgy; so much writing branding itself as 'dark' is really just normal settings plus a few extra bits stuck on without any change to the core identity and it is refreshing to read a piece that is all about the reorientation of perspective.

If any of that makes sense.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/01/21 03:55:15


Still trying to be more polite. If you catch me being toxic please call me on it.

Enjoying narrative before matched play, crusading on a path to glory! 
   
 
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