We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Heke’tan or Rogal Dorn, which is right? Perhaps neither of them (with due thanks to the creators of the Warhammer 40K universe)

In the distant future the Emperor of mankind (not yet referred to as “God Emperor” as the official position, at this time, of the Imperium of mankind is that the Emperor is not a God) faces a terrible revolt led by his son Horus – a war that future generations will call the “Horus Heresy”.

Horus has been seduced by what future generations would call the “Chaos Gods” or “Infernal Powers” – but which the Imperium presently describes as creatures of the warp, the dimension that craft use to travel between solar systems faster than the speed of light in normal space.

Many worlds have been reduced to burned husks, and many millions of people have been (and are being) killed as the war spreads across the galaxy and the forces of the enemy advance towards the Earth itself. But worse even than this – many of the Emperor’s most trusted warriors (the genetically enhanced Marines) have sided with Horus – who was, after all, the Warmaster (commander) of the Imperial armed forces. The behaviour of those genetically enhanced Marines who side with Horus is baffling – they ignore all rules of engagement, and revel in the torture and killing of civilians. They have also scored massive victories by surprise attacks on Imperial forces – turning on their own brothers in arms without warning and with a savagery (and sadism) that leaves their opponents (and former brothers) first baffled and then dead. At least the fortunate opponents are dead.

At first stunned by its terrible defeats the Empire of Mankind slowly responds – using interrogation (often brutal) to reveal traitors, both ordinary human and genetically enhanced, before they can strike. And the Empire strikes back (no Star Wars reference intended) in space – attacking worlds that are either captured or declare for Horus, literally meeting fire with fire.

Many planets hesitate in deciding which side to declare for – after all either side may prove the victor and both sides are destroying planets.

Indeed on some important planets representatives of both sides may arrive to put the case for the planet to either side with the Emperor or with Horus in the war.

On one such planet the Loyalist Marine Heka-tan dies – one dead out of countless millions across the galaxy, but his death is note worthy as he dies so that an enemy can live. A man (ordinary human) by the name Vorkellen – representing the side of Horus in the diplomatic mission to the planet. The faithless enemy had decided to destroy the planet (including their own representative) rather than have it side with the Imperium.

The pathetic Vorkellen is screaming “do not let me die, please do not let me die” to which Heka-Tan notes “Protect the weak – no matter who that is” and dies so the traitor can be saved. Was he right to do so?

The sacrifice is undoubtedly noble – although influenced by a desire to “be with my brothers” (the fellow members of Heka-Tan’s Legion who have already been killed, mostly at the start of the war). But the Empire is cost a warrior – and one of the elite genetically enhanced ones at that (superior in body and mind to ordinary humans). And the life saved is that of a traitor – who has betrayed the Empire indeed has betrayed humanity itself.

At the other end of the war…

In the Earth Solar System itself a spaceship (a single craft) appears from the warp – its fanatical crew fight to death when bordered by Imperial forces (themselves now ruthless and brutal) – all save one man, found chained in an isolated room separated from the rest of the ship. A man surrounded by writings in his own hand. He introduces himself as the “Last Remembrancer” (historian) Solomon Voss.

The commander of the defences the Earth Solar System is (by chance – or perhaps not) an old friend of Solomon Voss – Rogal Dorn commander of the “Imperial Fists” Marine Chapter of genetically enhanced warriors.

Solomon Voss calmly explains to his old friend that he could not understand why Horus had rebelled against the Emperor – and so, with other academics, had gone to see Horus who, after all, had also once been a close friend of his, to find out WHY he had done what he had done. Although Solomon Voss also admits that he was angered by the decision of the Imperium to close down the “Remembrancers” essentially closing down academic history (and independent record keeping – what we might call serious journalism) during the war.

Horus receives those who come to visit him by having everyone with Mr Voss savagely murdered – but Solomon Voss himself he “spares”. Indeed Mr Voss will get to see everything he wants to see (and also what he does not want to see) – starting with the decoration of the room, mutilated bodies of dead people and not quite dead people. Mr Voss gets to see (in detail) all the atrocities of the war that Horus can show him – “for a time I went mad” says Mr Voss. However, Solomon Voss is a dedicated historian and philosopher and he carefully studies all the information he is given (including the atrocities committed by BOTH sides) – coming up with an academic thesis.

This academic thesis is that “The Future is Dead” – whoever wins the war humanity is doomed. If Horus wins humanity will either be exterminated or kept in perpetual torment to worship the warp creatures who call themselves the Gods of Chaos. But if the Imperium wins it will be so corrupted and brutalised that civilisation will never recover. The Imperium will crush all dissent and all independent research – it will become a totalitarian theocracy, with the Emperor (or the memory of the Emperor) worshipped as a God – and everything becoming a religious ritual, even basic maintenance of simple technological devices. All true knowledge of science will be lost – along with all independent thought and creativity. All will just be a nightmare of endless repression – for the Imperium will be able to TRUST no one and will exist in perpetual terror of the “Infernal Powers”, who will not go away just because Horus is killed.

Rogal Thorn is in anguish – partly because he fears that the thesis “The Future is Dead” may well be true – indeed that the hope of the Imperium may always have been a delusion. But also because he fears that if the thesis becomes known the morale of the Imperium will collapse bringing on the defeat of humanity and the victory of evil-without-end. Solomon Voss is the best known intellectual of the Imperium – if he has lost faith, how can ordinary people be expected to fight on?

Rogal Thorn, with his own hand, executes his old friend Solomon Voss – and orders both the body and all the writings burned. Not even jailers can be trusted to know the opinions of Solomon Voss. Mr Voss himself meets his death calmly – indeed sees it as the confirmation of academic thesis, with even the honourable Rogal Thorn turning to murder and censorship, indeed the murder of an old friend and the destruction of his most important work. Whether the insane laughter of Horus or the brutal anguish of men such as Rogal Thorn wins – humanity is doomed.

As for Rogal Thorn he feels that the powers behind Horus are laughing – and that Horus sent him his old friend (a single ship, set up to be captured, with a safe room with Mr Voss chained inside it) for this very outcome.

Indeed perhaps the Emperor himself is at fault.

The Emperor had the highest motives, that is made clear. But it was he who launched the “Imperial Crusade” for “unification” of humanity.

True much of humanity had slipped into savagery, chaos and despotism (chaos and despotism being, of course, close kin) due to a disaster long ago which had made inter stellar space flight impossible for centuries.

But the Imperium sincerely coming to restore civilisation – had sometimes done so with a clinched fist. The very military that Horus now uses against humanity was first created by the Emperor – and the part of the military that Rogal Dorn is himself is part of (indeed commands) was also first created for the “Great Crusade” of “Unification”.

The Emperor had the purist of motives – but it was he who opened the door to…

So who is right – Heka’tan – who dies so an enemy may live, or Rogal Thorn who murders an old friend and destroys his most important research work – out of fear for the fate of humanity?

Perhaps neither of them is right. As Aristotle might have said there may be a “Golden Mean” between the suicidal conduct of Heka’tan and the brutal anguish of Rogal Thorn.

Do not despair, whatever the odds, and tolerate dissent, no matter what the risk to the “home front”. And if people do not wish for the gifts of civilisation (if they wish to remain in savage chaos) do not FORCE civilisation upon them.

But all that is a lot less difficult to hold about a fictional universe than it is about the real world.

35 comments to Heke’tan or Rogal Dorn, which is right? Perhaps neither of them (with due thanks to the creators of the Warhammer 40K universe)

  • Bell Curve

    Finally someone writing about the God Emperor and not meaning Donald Trump 😆

  • Paul Marks

    Bell Curve he is not a God – oh no The Inquisition have arrived, I did not mean it….. All Praise the Divine Emperor.

    Yes indeed Perry.

    Lots of typos from me – I got frustrated as I kept losing computer connection, and had to start from beginning several times.

    I even typed “too” for “to” – and I left out several words in the text.

    You can not read my mind? Well perhaps you will not be sacrificed to maintain the Imperial Beacon if you are not telepathic.

    Anyway I am waiting for someone to say the following.

    “You have misunderstood Horus – you are making a childish mistake (thinking morality is objective), he is a very moral person in-his-own-way……”

    And I am sure a case could be made for the warp creatures who call themselves the Gods of Chaos.

    “Who are you, Paul Marks, to attack an ancient religion sincerely believed in by many highly educated people – now pass me back that baby I was eating”.

  • Paul Marks

    Still the few planets controlled by the Ultra Marines Chapter still have scrap of decency even after so many centuries of war.

    The Space Wolves Chapter also cling to morality – at least a warriors code even in relation to the endless enemies of humanity (perhaps the worst of whom used to be human themselves).

    And hurrah for the Salamander Chapter of Marines – “Protect the Weak” even after all these centuries of war.

    “Who are you trying to deceive Paul – you are Inquisition to the core of your being”.


  • I got frustrated as I kept losing computer connection, and had to start from beginning several times.

    You must apply suitable unguents to your cognition engine to mollify its machine spirit and then summon a tech-priest to fix your connection…

    Tech suppport in the future… not all that different to tech support today, just with incense, prayer and .exe meaning “summary execution by a Commissar”. All praise the Machine God!

  • Paul Marks

    Quite correct Perry.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Bell Curve,

    I rather like that photo, which I’m quite sure is the real deal, un-retouched and most certainly not Photoshopped.

    And it’s a whole heckuvalot more likely than the image we’ve been seeing since sometime in 2008, of the Messiah with His Halo all nicely burnished and shining. Come to lead us all out of Egypt, every one.


    Actually, I do think the “photo” of Trump as Warrior Angel, if nothing else, is altogether a better effort even artistically than the try at making the Sith into the Redeemer.

    . . .


    That’s what Tech Support used to look like back in the days when I dropping boxes full of binary-code IBM cards off the bridge over Amsterdam Ave. in NYC.

    Oddly enough, my boss did not horsewhip me and then feed me to the lions. He was a great guy. Good thing he didn’t see your photo. Hives!

    (I think he’d have loved it.)

  • Mr Ed

    I have no idea (for which I am grateful) what the inspiration of this piece was, it sounds a bit like Eastern Europe in either World War, with no option of neutrality.

    It is a reminder of how often libertarians, confronting the reality of the world today, go into fugue through Sci Fi.

  • Evil Otto

    The Imperium was doomed from the start, because it was built upon a lie: that there were no gods, that there were no problems that science and reason couldn’t solve. That may be a valid belief in reality (and I don’t want to get into an atheist vs. believer argument), but in the fictional universe of Warhammer 40K there ARE gods. The Emperor seemed to want to starve the gods of worship, but the chaos gods don’t gain their power from worship, they gain it from emotion. As long as there is war, scheming, decay, and decadence the gods will have power. And without knowledge of them how are the people of the Imperium supposed to defend themselves? The “modern” Imperium suppresses such matters too, but they have an infrastructure in place to fight the incursions of daemons… a church, an inquisition, methods for handling psykers, and people who know of such things and are equipped to deal with them. The Emperor set up little of that, sending armies across the galaxy to conquer but doing little else to stop the true enemy that he knew existed. He created an Imperium unprepared to deal with the true threat.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Ed – yes the option of neutrality was rejected even by the Emperor (before the Infernal Powers turned Horus) – humanity must be “Unified” in the “Great Crusade”.

    Admittedly most of humanity was in savagery at the time – but it was still the Emperor who rejected just leaving people alone first.


    Well if Magnus (Commander of the “Thousand Son” Marine Legion – based on the planet Prospero) had not unintentionally destroyed the Emperor’s plan to create a “webway” that would have allowed travel without going into the warp, then the Emperor would have made a great move against the Infernal Powers for the good of all of humanity (a major blow against the forces of Hell). That (had it worked) would have justified the harshness of the “Great Crusade”.

    I doubt Donald Trump is working on such a “webway” between the stars. But who knowns…….

  • Thirty years ago and more, before the personal computer had gotten that far, a (possibly smaller) group of people avidly played war-games (‘conflict simulations’ for the pretentious) manually, with bits of cardboard and hexagonally-gridded maps. Back then, these games were usually grounded in real history. WWII’s eastern front was common enough (c.f. Mr Ed at March 6, 2017 at 7:23 am) – it mixed strategic and operational focus, and it offered a wide scope of complex, mutually-influencing decisions, etc., so it made a good game – but there were many, many others.

    Today, it is rarely real history that makes the backstory for the games these (often) young men play. Instead, it is often ultra-superficial narratives like the above, “where irony abounds and entire planets die like bugs on a windscreen” – where the backstory of even the eastern front would be considered mawkishly sentimental and credulous. For my money, a LordOfTheRings-style good-versus-evil story has more to tell of the real world than this.

    None of this is very surprising. The backstory to a game, created merely for that game, will naturally be more two-dimensional than Lara Croft’s biography, and will tend to reflect superficial ideas scraped from the top of a typical post-child pre-mature personality’s mind. However I add it to the many little things that cut us off from our past and from mature understanding. I learned a lot from gaming real events. From games like the above, I learn joystick moves and keyboard shortcut tricks.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul, actually the Trumpster picture made me think more of Mighty Thor (only got up in somewhat Roman getup, and I didn’t see the Hammer)) or possibly Odin his own self.

    Of course some people say it’s all smoke & mirrors anyway (politics, in this case). No doubt Hair would will such a webway into being, if it occurred to him. But just what form his blow would take, and against exactly which forces, well, those are the questions. ;>)

  • And lets not forget the company that owns the rights: Games Workshop. When the game started you got 20 marines for US$ 30. Now you get 5 for $50… and don’t ask about any unique or named figures. GW has perfected the “every following book is better than all previous” treadmill of purchase.

    I am a wargamer of the Grognard style, and I thought the original Rogue Trader was interesting – like somebodies house rules trying for Star Wars meets Dune meets Solomon Kane. Quirky but fun, more a miniatures game then a wargame really. Now the hobby is $3000 dollar armies and 50% of your victory points are based on how your foe feels about you and your paint job. Blatant Plug: said paint job can be purchased from the fine folks at Blue Table in a wide variety of styles and qualities. The only defense for GW is that they still exist, while the others are trivial players of long gone. Ah for Hordes of the Things, one-page Bulge, various rules for Napoleonics, or even Squad Leader.

    Just all IMHO.

  • Watchman


    If you think the general superficiality of world war II games (where you have to put aside good versus evil to play the Nazis) outdoes the depth of thought that goes into proper science fiction world creating (and Warhammer 40k has had a lot of creation) then you don’t appreciate the value of thought games. It might not be realistic (an irritating word – the phone in my pocket is not realistic to a ten-year old me (about when I got the first edition of Warhammer 40k), and colour television was not realistic to my wife’s grandmother when she was ten years old, but she seems to be able to use it now) but then constraining thought by reality is a bloody good way of getting socialism – because you end up believing we have to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s technologies (because in reality you don’t realise what new technologies can do until they are established).

    And incidentally Games Workshop do not play the destruction and the irony in Warhammer 40k in a way that makes the eastern front sentimental and credulous – they draw on that sort of imagery and iconography to create their own pathos.

    They also produced the Orks – a race that basically rampage around in tribal groups with minimal social structure (and a habit of establishing supermacy through demonstrations of power and wealth), just having fun and making things work well enough to get by – an entirely different view on society, but an equally useful thought exercise. Or the Elder, whose civilisation failed and are holding onto the remenants with a cold arrogance. None of this is political commentary, but all are good ways to think.

  • where the backstory of even the eastern front would be considered mawkishly sentimental and credulous

    No, no, no. WH40k is the Eastern Front writ large (i.e. on a galactic scale). There is also a lot of quite sophisticated and humorous official fiction, such as the Ciaphas Cain novels, in which the protagonist, a commissar & Hero of the Imperium, is in fact a Harry Flashman-like fraud 😆

  • NickM

    Never clocked you for a 40K fan. I got the original hardback rules when it came out but I was a kid and building an army was beyond my means. And then I got an Amiga so the table-top was traded for the desktop so to speak.

    Which brings me to another lesson from computer games. I am currently in a Hellish fight in “old skool” Alpha Centauri. I am Lady Deidre of the Gaians and I’m up against the Spartan Federation at the mo… I’m gonna do things to Col Corazon Santiago that would make ISIS soil their dish-dashas (sp? – who fucking cares – evil exists and they are it) but first I must win. Anyway it occurs to me that the various factions (which have different strengths and weaknesses) are skewed. In order of intrinsic strength I’d rate them thus…

    1. University.
    2. Gaians – Although top if you go for the option of abundant native life – I did.
    3. United Nations Peacekeepers.
    4. Human Hive – Maoists.
    5. Spartans – militaristic facists.
    6. Lord’s Believers – Midwestern God Botherers.
    7. Morgan Industries – free market capitalism.

    Interesting that. But then Alpha Centauri is the sequel to Civilization and the default leaders are interesting even though in the original there is no intrinsic strengths or weaknesses (though they do vary in temperament and strategy). The English (always me) get Queen Liz I, the Zulus get Shaka, the Mongols get Ghengis Khan… But what of the rest? The Russians get Stalin, the Chinese get Mao and the French have Napolean. The Germans though don’t get Hitler. They get Friedrich the Great. Now perhaps (as I noted the leaders differ in temperament) the designers thought the game balance was skewed by having too many “expansionists” contra “perfectionists” (a Civ term – some leaders go nutty to expand and some seek more to develop what they have) but… With ref to previous posts about Hitler it is interesting that Hitler is seen as beyond the Pale but Mao and Stalin are not.

  • nweismuller

    I actually just recently finished a long-running playthrough of Alpha Centauri where, as Morgan, I laid the foundation for a lasting peace and prosperity, but not before having to fight off psychotic aggression from the Gaians and Spartans. The University actually remained the smallest and weakest faction in that game, not counting the Hive eventually being wiped out by the Believers…

  • In reply to Watchman (March 6, 2017 at 5:38 pm) and Perry de Havilland (London) (March 6, 2017 at 5:53 pm), I would say that WH40k understands the eastern front the way a 20-year-old marxist understand capitalism, or a 1971 student protestor understood the Vietnam war. They see the crude and obvious aspects, but not the huge qualifying depth of reality behind it (because in WH40k there is very little – spawned fiction hardly compares). Thus if they mature, they do so of themselves; more study of the backstory has little to offer.

    “I think with shame and rage of a Europe divided by the river Bug, on one side of which people pray for Hitler’s armies to come and deliver them while on the other side, people regard liberation by the armies of Stalin as their only hope.”

    Any cynical 20-year-old student can echo that – without truly feeling any actual rage whatever, still less any actual shame. In WH40k, why would they ever? All its backstory can teach is that Solomon Voss was smart – and Rogal Thorn smarter to kill him. (Tolkien can do better than this even as regards names. I quote from very vague memory Kingsley Amis’ remark on Asimov’s Foundation books that “When, aged 12, I saw the names – Hari Seldon, Salvor Hardin, Gaal Dornick, – I may not have thought that subtle grasp of evolved linguistics was missing, but I certainly thought something was missing. 🙂 )

    WH40k makes a game. So (see my first comment) does the eastern front. (Some important historical episodes, considered as games, are as unplayable as quidditch unless the designer is really clever.) But its backstory leads nowhere.

  • Paul Marks

    Niall I would not call myself a Warhammer fan – after all there is not a single Warhammer figure in this house (I regard them as overpriced – and the rules of the game as very flawed). I was indeed a wargamer – although not as much as some people I know.

    I was looking for an example where someone would not say “they did not really think that – you undergraduate!” or some such words. I do not think that even the defenders of Thomas Hobbes (let alone David Hume) will rush to defend Horus – the so called “Master of Chaos” (really slave of evil).

    Although it is possible to play the “Horus really means….” game, it is lot more difficult than playing “David Hume really meant……” – as David Hume uses rather more gentle language than Horus and (especially) the followers of Horus, and David Hume did not (as far as I know) have mutilated human bodies hanging from his ceiling.

    Julie – quite so, the pictures put me in mind of a Norse Gods also (crossed with Classical Gods – and with a bit of Gothic thrown in). Although the Arch Angel Michael (sword-in-hand) is not a meek-and-mild figure in Christian art.

    Evil Otto.

    The Chaos entities are indeed real (within the context of the game) – but I would call them Devils rather than “Gods”, I see no reason to use the name for them that their slaves (the slaves of evil) use.

    Also the Emperor was working on a version of the “Webway” (like the one the Eldar once had) that would have got rid of the need to use the “warp” and might have allowed the warp to be cut off from ordinary space.

    Thus, perhaps, cutting off the Chaos creatures (the so called “Gods” of Chaos) from human emotions.

    As has been explained by people much better versed in the 40K universe than me……..

    The Chaos Creatures have exactly what they want – perpetual war, and perpetual tyranny.

    Victory for Horus would have “burnt out” humanity in one great orgy of evil – and then the Chaos creatures would have starved to death.

    And victory for the Emperor would have meant the victory of science and reason – and cutting off of the food supply of the Chaos creatures.

    But endless war and tyranny (with Horus dead – and the Emperor physically smashed and put into a suspended animation chamber where he is powerless to even prevent human sacrifices in his name) is exactly what the Chaos Creatures want – it feeds evil for ever.

    Thus even many of the loyal soldiers and priests of the Empire serve (without knowing it) the Powers of Evil.

    Only on the handful of worlds controlled by the Ultra Marines (and other like minded Marine Chapters) is some memory of what the Empire of Mankind should be like, kept alive.

  • Paul Marks

    Niall – are Morgan Industries really free market people?

    Or are they really “evil big business” out to destroy the environment (or whatever). I do not know the game (although I have heard of it).

    As for Frederick the Great rather than Adolf Hitler – well the one leads to the other. Frederick the Great denied human moral agency (Free Will) and supported expansionist wars of aggression for his own glory. And he was utterly ruthless – for example ignorant British people visited Berlin and remarked on how few crippled soldiers they spotted on the streets, they did not understand in Frederick’s army a crippled solider (i.e. one who would be of no further use to him) was left to die.

    And in case anyone is asking “Paul are you really saying the Horus Heresy (the revolt against morality) is like the work of David Hume?”

    It is the work of David Hume in the hands of a Logical Positivist philosopher such as A.J. Ayer.

    David Hume might not have approved of the Horus Heresy – just as Sir William Blackstone might not have approved of the consequences of him saying that Parliament can do anything it likes (that any insane ravings from Parliament are “law” – for example making having red hair a “crime” punishable by death, or making not having a “license” to practice a trade or profession a “crime” thus reversing Dr Bonham’s Case under Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke).

    But this does not let either David Hume or Sir William Blackstone off the hook. Yes Sir William Blackstone was a Natural Law (Natural Justice) man – but he, de facto, held that it did not apply to Parliament.

    That is like saying “what Horus (or the Emperor) is doing is evil – but we have no right to object to it”.

  • Watchman


    It’s backstory leads whereever you let it take you – which is why it is a thought exercise and why I suggest it is useful.

    The backstory of the eastern front leads to Soviet victory in 1945, the iron curtain and eventually the collapse of the Soviet bloc in eastern Europe. We know this because it is history. It might be a very detailed and complex back story, but it is a back story known as history and history is a constrained story. This is not to say it is not worth looking at, but I have had to look at that backstory too many times…

  • NickM

    Well, obviously, JRRT built a legendarium that has no rival. Why? Because his legends have legends. In “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of The Rings” characters tell tales and sing songs or recite poetry going back thousands of years much as we do about Troy or King Arthur. A key point about JRRT is that some of his metamythology he freely admitted he didn’t understand himself. So, if you are one of those sorts who pitches-up on Tolkien forums with a feory as to what Tom Bombadil actually is then be gone already! Because JRRT didn’t know himself and freely admitted as much. That is what makes Middle Earth so real feeling. When I was a kid I really wanted to go there. It got to the Tookish part of me and now in early middle-age in Cheshire (where there are no wereworms – that I know of – twats who chuck an empty can of Monster “energy drink” over the hedge but then chinning one of them is hardly a quest is it?) but you can’t know. I live in a C17th gaff so you never know when a wandering wizard and bunch of dwarves (JRRT spelling) might pitch-up whilst I have a smoke on the doorstep.

    I’d be gone in a shot. Far over the Misty Mountains cold and all that malarkey. It seems somewhat more romantic and indeed meaningful than fixing computer networks and cleaning Quaker toilets – not that those are things that don’t need a-doing and I is the Nikes on the ground for ’em. And I have a comfortably pleasant existence. Just like Bilbo… That is worrisome. I’m just waiting for that knock. Is that what those idiots who join ISIS are doing except they didn’t hear Gandalf’s knock but Saruman’s.

    I reckon so.

  • NickM

    nweismuller, hats off to you for winning as a Morganite. I always found their Planet score (and esp. the downsides of “free market”) crippling. So bloody well done! And I been playing dem games since my Amiga days. Hat’s off!

  • nweismuller

    Paul: in-game, the ‘Agenda’ of Morgan Industries (which influences how the AI sets up the ‘Social Engineering’ of the faction- which is to say its political and economic principles of organisation) is Free Market Economics. The inherent disadvantages of Morgan Industries are all focused on more of the resources in the faction being spent on the lifestyles of its citizens than in other factions, leaving them with smaller military budgets (in-game, a penalty to the ‘SUPPORT’ stat) and smaller populations due to each individual using more resources and living space, while they get inherent economic advantages. Free Market Economics unfortunately does have a ‘PLANET’ penalty, which is to say it pisses off the evil fungal neural network spread over the planet of Chiron, but- I say the Planetmind deserves everything it gets. It is an evil and murderous god. Given that I played through the game as a free market democratic state with its settlements in a perpetual ‘Golden Age’ due to the quality of life I delivered, I think it is fair to say I was not producing a cliched dystopia.

    NickM: the trick is, the big disadvantages of Free Market are the PLANET penalty (which hurts, but which isn’t too bad for dealing with native life as long as you take Knowledge Values instead of Wealth Values) and the POLICE penalty, giving the populace personal freedom to be pacifists- which means I am extremely conservative with pressing war outside of my borders. Never start a war, and rely on mobile rover forces over road networks once a war is started to secure a buffer against your aggressors, which is how I eventually forced the Gaians and Spartans into submission.

  • Paul Marks

    Thank you nweismuller – although the thing about the planet being sentient throws me a bit.


    Tom B. is a nature spirit – older than the world. Of course Gandalf is a spirit to (as are Sauron and so on) but of the folk of a different one of the Valar.

    The only real problem is the spelling of the words – there is no problem with who Tom is.

    I have remembered I have a copy of the Simarillion so spellings can be done.

    Tom is a Maia – of the people of Yavanna.

  • Julie near Chicago


    I was so ashamed of the Professor for being ashamed of the “Dwarves” entry that he wrote for the OED. Yes he did testify there to “dwarves,” and he was right too!

    PROOF: We were taught, in grade school and high school (so, throughout the ’50s) that to form the plural of monosyllabic (at least) words ending with f, you drop the f and add -ves.

    So: calf, calves; half, halves; dwarf, dwarves; hoof, hooves; and even roof, rooves, IIRC (never a sure thing), though we were told it had fallen out of use about 15 millenia previous and the plural was now the exceptional “roofs.”

    HAH! Take that, Professor! “Dwarfs,” my left toenail!


    Somewhat more seriously, I can’t help wondering if there was a school of thought generally which held that theory, given JRRT’s dreadful “lapse.”

    I also tend to wonder if proposition P is a revision which ought to be queried….

    Quite paranoid and mistrustful I’ve become in my old age, I have….

  • Julie, it’s news to me that Tolkien ever expressed a regret for his chosen spelling of ‘dwarves’. In all that I’ve read, he insisted that ‘dwarves’ was if anything a concession itself and it should have been dwarrows or dwerrows if the word had remained in commonplace use. ‘Dwarfs’ to Tolkien merely reflected a regrettable tendency of people to think them unworthy of any discussion.

    I observe that C.S.Lewis did not copy his friend in this: they have ‘dwarfs’ in Narnia.

  • Paul Marks

    Quite so Niall.

    And I hope you will agree Julie that the Dwarves are a noble race.

    “Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!”.

    The language of these great craftsmen and traders is based upon Hebrew.

  • Mr Ed

    I read that Tolkien got a snotty letter from his publisher about the LotR (or perhaps the Hobbit) who complained at length about it and said that he had spelt ‘dwarfs’ wrongly (whatever way).

    His reply: “Yes, I have changed my mind since I wrote that entry in the Oxford English Dictionary”.

    That may be our old friend Ben Trovato at work, but it is a nice thought. And I still remember spluttering at hearing a Lefty adult on BBC Radio 4 attack the Hobbit as a book, having read it for the first time, adding (without anyone commenting otherwise) ‘He had a pretty limited vocabulary our friend Tolkien‘.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall and Mr Ed,

    I remember your quote, Mr Ed, so that must be one of the places I picked up on JRRT’s dwarvish issue. I’m pretty sure there was another remark on it somewhere, but I don’t remember where (and I could be making that up, of course). But I definitely remember that Our Friend Tolkien had a pretty limited vocabulary.

    The very nerve! Tchah!!!

    Niall, I’ve never heard of “dwarrows” or “dwerrows,” so this news is very interesting.

    Professor Lewis should have gone with the Professor and Miss Stoffregen (my English teacher, freshman and senior years in high school) and, of course, me.

    I say Dwarves. Other people can say “potahto” if they feel they must, but I don’t allow it in my house. *sniff*


    See, “dwarvish.” I’m very clear that you drop the -f and add whatever. Another example: Elf, elves, elvish. I’m sure I’ve never seen it called “elfish,” not by JRRT or anyone else. *frown of disapproval*

  • My understanding of Tokien’s phrase was that he had originally allowed dwarfs on grounds of usage but had then changed his mind on grounds of erudition. However I have not looked up dwar* in the OED and it will be a while before I can.

  • nweismuller

    Paul- of course the planet itself isn’t sentient, but there is a massive network of fungal forests spread over much of the surface that acts like the paths in a conventional brain. Given the presence of cryptic alien relics on the planet, it seems likely that the fungal mind was a deliberate alien project some time back, although by the time Humanity finds it it is more than half-mad and not really thinking very well at all. It directs vicious ‘mindworms’ as a defense mechanism, that attack humans with intense psychic pain and terror before burrowing into their skulls to kill them. This is the ‘planetary ecology’ that the Gaians want to live in harmony with- which I say has pretty well proven it’s a hostile force and deserves to be treated as such. As such, I make it a point to clear away the fungal forests through all my territory.

    It always struck me as odd that using mindworms wasn’t treated as an atrocity in that game, just as using nerve gas already is. Either way, I refuse to use the bastards- they’re an incredibly sadistic weapon, and I won’t be a part of that.

  • Paul Marks

    I apologise for my error nweismuller.

    As for the rest – I suspect the Gaians have a different point of view.

    I am too ignorant of the basic facts to make a judgement.

  • Edward

    What really attracts me to the Warhammer 40k universe is the origin of the Emperor of Mankind.

    He’s the distillation of all the great minds of humanity. All the great philosophers, artists, scientists, you name it. He is the ultimate TOP MAN. The acme of what Good Government can be.

    And he fails. Humanity faces destruction not in spite of his actions, but because of his actions.

    You really can’t get more libertarian than that…

  • Paul Marks

    Quite so Edward.