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 16 Nov 20, 22:50
@James : Haha, it should set a suitable atmosphere for the game. Thanks a lot! A coincidence for sure, or perhaps a sign from the Emperor? I would love to see the Hrud appear as an army with miniatures to boot. 40k could do with more miniatures for lesser xenos. As to the ideal Imperial subject, just remember to shut the door on the way out. :smile:

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Burning Pict-Screen

In the grim darkness of the far future, some who fall asleep before the screen do not awake.

Abstract thinking, crafting and arts were among the traits which distinguished humanity's primitive forefathers from the rest of the animal kingdom. The Men of Gold are known to have depicted hunting scenes on cave walls and adorned their temples with images that related mythical stories during our distant past on Old Earth. Later on during the Age of Terra, man learnt how to capture still images and moving pictures, projecting them for the eye to view on fabrics and screens via a mastery of light. The fabled Dark Age of Technology is said to have brought with it breakthroughs in hololithics, caelumena and even more spectacular forms of visual media which the benighted descendants of this lost epoch of science and discovery can no longer possibly fathom. For both secret knowledge and working relics of the most advanced visual technologies have long since turned to dust and ash, as the world of mortals shrank in on itself and grew dull and fearful in the wake of terrible cataclysms.

While the most advanced and consequently least endurable pict tech have long since been lost to the sands of time, various other technologies for transmitting and projecting images survive into the Age of Imperium, thanks to scattered findings of Standard Template Construct schematics for the making of everything from vacuum tubes, redpoint and prismatic crystal components, to liquid light cells and hololithic projectors. As with everything in the Imperium of Man, the hardware it possess hail from wildly different stages of historical development of science and technology, yet the most common utilitarian tech (outside the jealously hoarded treasures of the insular Adeptus Mechanicus) tend to hail from the lowlier and more rudimentary forms of technology.

This primitivization of human technology did not end with the Age of Strife as the brief renaissance of the Great Crusade swept the Milky Way Galaxy, but has instead continued with but few interruptions, as humanity's grasp of knowledge slowly erodes away, and as its better industrial machines from ancient times eventually fail, with no one capable of repairing or replicating them left standing among the living for untold light years around.

Of course, those in possession of wealth, power and contacts offworld or among more technologically capable clans and organizations tend to enjoy the dimming light of sophisticated human tech for far longer than the vast majority of Imperial society across a million worlds and uncounted voidholms. A great deal of prestige and veneration is attached to owning intricate things which ordinary Imperial subjects could barely dream of, with machine spirits far in advance of anything which most human beings will ever encounter in their daily lives. Indeed an entire boutique economy of rarefied artisans and master artificers exist to cater to the technological needs of upper classes and Imperial Adepta alike, all parochial tech clans where precious crafting knowledge is inherited from parents to children, characterized by time-consuming handicraft of immense skill and exclusively low production numbers for the finest of clients.

As for the filthy majority of human populations, shoddy mass production is king as regard both market enterprise and state-owned manufacturing: Indeed the very idea of entrepreneurial freedom from both planetary and voidholm rulers, as well as branches of the Adeptus Terra, is a ludicrous notion across most of His Divine Majesty's astral domains, for Imperial overlords maintain all manner of controls and oversight over industries which they do not themselves possess, in a nightmarishly complex web of privileges, traditional pledges, religious edicts, local customs, martial law, Adeptus Mechanicus licensing, strongman rule through force, decrees issued by the High Lords of Terra, rampant corruption, underhand tricks and mercantile charters; all of which amounts to nothing short of a juridical basket case that keeps vast legions of legal experts on the Lex Imperialis occupied in lengthy court cases that can span many centuries and generations. Ancient Terran philosophers from very different cultures all remarked that the more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the state. This notion is punishable by horrific means of torture, execution and servitorization in the Imperium of Man, should anyone ever be foolish enough to voice it aloud or write it down, for the very concept is heretical and antithetical to Imperial rule with its endless accretion of fossilized laws and contradictions.

Naturally, most worlds and voidholms across the vast Imperium of Man are plagued by abysmal levels of quality for most of their consumer goods, and the mass manufacture of pict-screens is no exception. The ever-worsening rot of technotheological knowledge and etiolation of the machines of techno-sorcery has resulted in unsafe electronics being a common fact of life. For instance, a substantial number of all fuses and circuit breakers installed in mass-produced ware are of atrocious makes, often being installed as a token gesture of respect toward machine spirits and toward manufacturing traditions built on decaying STC hard copy blueprints. As a result of general ineptitude, indifference and ignorance, cheap pict-screens (some of which even sport a magnifying glass in front of a tiny screen) have a widespread tendency toward spontaneous combustion, being especially prone to sparking flames and short-circuiting when operators switch channels or adjust properties such as vox-volume or brightness.

Such is the state of something as simple as the humble pict-screen in the dark future, which is in truth a primitive and simple technology that mankind in the decrepit Age of Imperium increasingly fails to produce safely and reliably. Indeed sclerotic Imperial industry everywhere primarily values superstitious rituals and going through the motions handed down by forgotten ancestors. The striving to truly understand and master the technicalities of production processes and finished goods alike has waned considerably over the last ten thousand years as human grasp of tech steadily retreats into a darkening night of dysfunctionality and scavenging ruin. Likewise, genuine quality control and concerns over such malcontent concepts as health and safety are far removed from those who manage and operate the numberless manufactoria which churn out mass-produced civilian goods for the plebeian hordes of consumers.

And so every day, thousands of pict-screens across uncounted planets, starships and voidholms suddenly catch fire, as their temperamental machine spirits give hot protest to their human users' lack of reverence and failure to pronounce litanies and mantras without error. The sinful men, women and children thus judged, must flee, raise the alarm or themselves extinguish the flames, or else be devoured by them. Across tens of millions of hive cities and hundreds of millions of void installations, everyone seems to know of some friend, neighbour or family member who was wounded or killed by a fire started by some burning pict-screen. Such fatalities are especially common among slothful indolents who would doze off and catch a nap, and as just punishment for their moral failings the wrathful machine spirit will often choke them with smoke in their sleep, to never again wake up as cleansing tongues of flame consume their sinful flesh.

Thus man is no longer the wise master of his own tools and crafts, and increasingly the fruits of his labours fail despite increased input of work and resources. Where once curious ancestors remodelled the matter of creation like clay, their degenerate descendants stoop amidst squalor, having lost almost everything while not even remembering what it was they lost, teeming like vermin among the battered and broken remnants of a once glorious stellar civlization while they live in terror of the great unknown. And so fearful man may often be heard to recite a line in his daily prayers, asking the God-Emperor on Holy Terra to spare himself and his kith and kin from the sudden flame, the smoke devils, the burning animus, the lit machine.

Such is the misery that await our species.

Such is the degradation of man, in the darkest of futures.

It is the fortyfirst millenium, and there is no escape from the horror and suffering.
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 18 Nov 20, 02:34
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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.
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 21 Nov 20, 14:25
You make a good point @Karak Norn Clansman πŸ˜‚
I'm caught up again! And like James, "a good subject is like a good door" stood out to me too.
If not for the fact that the legal team would be all over it I would suggest collecting these into some sort of ebook. Have you ever considered submitting them to somebody at GW or the Black Library?
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 24 Nov 20, 09:56
@pawl Cheers! I will eventually collect them into a PDF and put out for download, but while the number keeps on growing it's best to wait. I've tried approaching GW, FW and the Black Library with various ideas and Chaos Dwarf works similar to these 40k writings and doodles before, but there was never any interest. Could still try it again, though. :smiley:

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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.
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 25 Nov 20, 01:23
Still catching up but wanted to chirp in. The artwork for the raider siezure story really caught my attention. Reminds me of a cross between judge dredd esque comic and the really famous dark angels artwork with the blonde haired helnetless marine looking like duke nukem. Excellent!!
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 27 Nov 20, 12:14
James wrote: ↑25 Nov 20, 01:23 the really famous dark angels artwork with the blonde haired helnetless marine looking like duke nukem.
This one? 😁
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 29 Nov 20, 20:29
Like the idea of a PDF, and I think you should keep pestering GW/BL, but good luck getting them to print Chaos Dwarf material!

Also, I wasn't particularly keen on this section (just didn't think it was quite realistic), but loved the rest.
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.
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