I have confirmed the existence of a third branch of the Knights of the Lost. Unfortunately, that branch is trying to kill me.
I’ve been reading the 9th Age forums recently, or rather, I’ve been watching people complain about that game not being exactly like its inspiration. Such a reminder of the differences between result and inspiration brought me back to a particular obsession of mine: what the T9A team (or a similar project) would do to the 40k universe. In particular, I wonder what they would do to the Space Wolves, the Dark Angels, and the Blood Angels, three Space Marine chapters that have traditionally gotten their own books.
The Knights of the Lost originally came from the Chaos-wracked planet called Logress, which was, tragically, destroyed around the time of the Second Empire. Before the Light reached that benighted world, the predecessors of this chapter of Bellatores, the Knights of the Round Table, would ride out from their citadels, slaying the monstrosities that infested the wild. In this way, the what little civilization that existed on Logress could survive.
The Knights of the Lost still honor those ancient warriors, and their elite super-heavy infantry still bears their name. If you find yourself on the same battlefield as these modern Knights of the Round, you can be assured that no behemoth, made of either flesh or steel, will break through that wall of heroes. Just be aware that they are wont to keep to themselves outside of combat.Introduction to the Galaxy, 9994 Edition
I am not, of course, suggesting that the T9A team actually do anything like this. They’ve already got their own project to work on, and they already seem stretched pretty thin. I am simply wondering what would happen if somebody made a universe based off of 40k, using a similar set of constraints used for creating The 9th Age. I’m not sure it would be possible.
When the pincers arrived, I thought we were all dead. I could barely get a request for help through the comm, busy as I was staring at those blood-soaked chitin blades. I heard something about someone ‘being right there’ over the comm, and then there was a crack like thunder. I looked up, and saw about a dozen men, in white armor so heavy I didn’t think anyone could move in it, facing off against those giant beetles. The streets ran with blood tonight, but it wasn’t the red blood of humans.Journal of Galen Koizumi, 08.03.9985
The very fact that there are sub-factions with their own books in 40k points to why. T9A is intentionally designed to be played in tournaments, rather than the half-narrative, half-simulation with vague gestures toward tournament play the 40k has been for most of its life. T9A’s design paradigm is a lot less amendable towards letting books share most of their units. Strengthening or weakening a unit in one book can have knock-on effects in the books that share that unit, making the game harder to balance overall.
The refuges stood in the rain, waiting for the day’s rations. The Knights of the Lost stood guard, watching for the enemies beyond the camp, and making sure that there were no problems inside of it. So long as they behaved themselves, they payed little attention to the displaced civilians in their mist.
Sarah was grateful for that. Being ignored was much better than getting the attention of armed men, even if they were supposed to be here to protect her people. As it was, she didn’t dare let Andre, her young son, out of her site for minute, not when she had lost so many other children. So it was that she was taking her rations back to their tent, keeping a hold of Andre’s hand, dragging him along and trying to keep away from the guards. When they paused to let grav-lift pass in front of them, Andre asked, “Hey mister, why are you wearing a robe over your armor?”
As one, the Knights of the Lost turned and glared.
Pushing against this, however, is the second constraint, that every model used in the WHFB needs to continue to have a use in T9A. Strictly speaking, this constraint exists because T9A was created as a replacement for a game that had ended, and the creators wanted the players to be able to use the models they had bought, assembled, and painted over the years, which wouldn’t actually apply in the case of doing the same to 40k. However, this constraint, along with the third constraint of the fluff having to be different enough from the inspiration to avoid legal troubles, results in the kind of fiction that I’m actually interested in.
Interrogator Bedwyr stared at me through his skull-faced helmet. He asked me about my past, about my work, trying to dig up whatever contradictions my mind could spit out. I lied, of course, or at least I deceived. I wasn’t going to admit that I was there to investigate the rumors of strange technology that followed the Knights around. I made myself believe what I was saying, too, as much as I could without forgetting my mission, at least. That was the only reason I was able to redirect the violation from the psychic from behind the glass, channeling him into the lies I told about myself rather than letting him get to the truth.
It seemed that their suspicions were not put to rest by the attempted break-in on my mind. They brought me to a small chamber, containing nothing but a bed and a toilet, and barely large enough to fit both. Everything was going exactly as I planned.
Another thing to consider is the sheer size of the Space Marine model lines. This is the natural result of them getting a disproportionate number of releases for over thirty years, and at this point, army composition is a bit unwieldy. GW has tried to differentiate the lines at points, but that, in the end, didn’t seem to take. Part of this was for fluff reasons. Why was it that the Blood Angels and their successors alone, out of all the chapters in the galaxy, knew how to put their librarians in dreadnoughts?
I have a spatial compressor in my stomach lining, you know. It was most useful in escaping; I just shrunk myself down and went into the vents. I made short little trips, at first. There wasn’t much energy in the device, and I wouldn’t be able to maintain that size for long. That lasted until I caught a flash of green cloak in the vents. I was worried that I had been found, and that the Knights of the Lost had the same technology, and at any rate, I wanted to know where they were going. I gave chase.
Although it might be possible that using the Blood Angels as an example might be unfair, because the basic concept of ‘noble heroes with a dark curse’ can be pretty effectively represented by one or perhaps two units (one for the curse, one for the nobility), but might actually make things worse. The fluff tells us that the Blood Angels try to be as much like a normal marine chapter as possible to keep people from asking to much about their curse; why would they have enough special equipment for their own book?
I managed to get out of the tunnels just as the energy of the compressor ran out. I found myself in a dark chamber, with machinery and the faint smell of solder filling the room. I crept forward, doing everything I could to stay out the sight of anyone that might have been looking. Eventually, I came across some of those small, cloaked creatures that are sometimes seen after the Knights have a battle.
They were working a piece of armor. I smelt the soldering, and I saw a glow in front of them. I stood up, trying to get a better look at what they were doing to it. It seemed that they were attaching something that resemble an Elethar soulgem to the metal. That’s when the man in black armor came after me.
The Dark Angels might be even worse. Like the Blood Angels, they, too, have a dark secret that they try to hide by being like a normal chapter. The actual secret, that half of their original legion turned traitor 10,000 years ago and have a tendency to still show up by means of time travel, has very little chance of affecting gameplay directly, and if it did, the Dark Angels player probably worked something out with their opponent. While I can see the merit in the actual secret being less important than what keeping the secret has done to the chapter, I’m still annoyed that so much of the Dark Angels equipment is just supertech that they happen have lying around.
I activated my temporalizer, and as time slowed, I managed to grab his weapon, point it into his neck, and pull the trigger. While the body of a Bellator might be able to sustain that kind of wound, I didn’t stay around long enough to find out. I made my way out of the compound.
I didn’t think I would be able to hide from them forever, and I wasn’t. All I could do was hide behind the lip of a crater, and listen to the sounds of pursuit. I heard some kind of engine approaching me. I activated my temporalizer again, and through myself into the open. The black-armored biker reacted fast enough to notice me, but not fast enough to stop me sticking a sharp piece of shale in his neck. I threw the corpse from the motorcycle, and rode off on it.
But I digress. The real reason I made this post was to sketch out an idea I had to file the serial numbers off the Dark Angels. The basic idea would to be integrate the various gimmicks they have into a single, connected whole. I didn’t cover everything in I wanted to in the essay, like how works that aren’t intentionally consistent with each other naturally diverge, simply as a result of being worked on by different teams. I’m also a bit curious what would happen if I fed the basic concepts of the 40k universe into a text predictor, simply because I’ve been following the development of Novel AI. Anyway, this is an interesting subject to think about.
I can’t imagine that the Knights of the Lost haven’t noticed their missing brother, and I rather suspect that they have a way of tracking their bikes. By the time anyone reads this, I’ll be dead. But if I do this right, no one will be able to tell that I sent it.Marius Kenzarian, sent 02.19.9985