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7/27/2016

Xathrodox86 reviews: "Throneworld" by Guy Haley

There's no stopping Guy Haley. The man delivers one great book, after another and "Throneworld" is no exception.

This one kicks off with a bang, as Eldrad Ulthran and a band of Harleqins infiltrate the Imperial Palace to speak with the Big-E himself. It is at this point that we are aware of just how awesome and hardcore the servants of Cegorach actually are in combat. Even against enemies like the Custodian Guard, the Clowns are outright murderous. The thing that always irked me in 40K tabletop game, was the actual discord between the rules and fluff. I know that some sacrifices have to be made to make the game playable (and God Emperor knows that the current meta needs it more than ever) but honestly - Eldar players should be writing petitions to Games Workshop, asking them to buff the Harleqins, even for a hefty point increase. They're that good.

Respect the Elves!

After a very solid beginning and a couple of interesting revelations (Eldrad and Emps used to be buddies. Who knew?) we're getting back to good, old Terran politics. After the arrival of the Last Wall, effectively the old Imperial Fists Legion, the Throneworld is in disaray. High Lords are, of course, furious and think that this is an outrage, while Koorland and his fellow Battle Brothers are disgusted with the Council of Terra's spineless politicking. The differences between the Astartes and the Imperium's ruling body are easily one of the strongest points of this book and Haley really shows how much the mankind's domain has changed since the golden times of the Great Crusade. Splendid stuff.

There are two more plotlines and it was very difficult for me to decided, which was more interesting. The first one deals with the Assassinorum infiltration cell on Mars. It shows just how ruthless and immoral the AdMech can truly be. Of course there is no doubt that Drakan Vangorich, patron saint of awesome, will have something nasty in his sleeve, when the times comes to deal with the boys and girls in red, but so far, the Cult of Mars is doing everything to save its bacon. Even if the rest of the Imperium will suffer for it. Damn those bastards!

The second one centers around ancient rivalry between Warsmith Kalkator of the IVth Legion and Magneric, the Dreadnought-Marshall of the Black Templars. Both of them used to be friends before the Great Heresy, and now Magneric is trying his hardest to catch up with Kalkator and, uh, do rather unpleasant things to him, in the Emperor's name of course. Now, since the book came out some time ago and even before it's release it was hinted at, this isn't probably a spoiler of any kind. I just need to mention it, because in my opinion it only highlights Guy Haley's awesomness as a writer and creator of fluff.

At one point in "Throneworld" the Iron Warriors and the Black Templars join forces to escape from an Ork onslaught. Yeah, that's right. The most hardcore of IF's successors and their most hated enemies (remember that this is after the Iron Cage incidednt!) put aside their ancient hatred and rivalry and stand, shoulder to shoulder, against the Green Tide.

"We have to ally with whom?!"

Now, generally I'm a rather conservative person, when it comes to 40K's fluff, but this... This was incredibly well written and fascinating to read. Haley plays upon the old brotherhood feelings, the memories of past glories that both Kalkator and Magneric shared, during the Great Crusade and makes this alliance 100% realistic and beliveable. Their conversations about the current Imperium, the Emperor's choices and hypocrisy and ancient deeds, really bring the reader to this world, make him believe that he's there, watching those two, out of their time, disilussioned demigods of war, standing there, talking about things that have been and could have been. It is at the same time awe inspiring and heartbreaking, encapsulating perfectly the essence of Warhammer 40,000 and making me remember why I love this universe so damn much. I'm not joking, this is the first time in this series that Drakan Vangorich is not the main selling point of the book, and it is glorious.

"Throneworld" is a very solid point in "The Beast Arises" series and it could be the best position, so far. I really think that Guy Haley may be one of the most prominent Black Library writers, at this moment. Almost all of his stories are very solid, if not great, and trust me, I love nitpicking and complaining about every and all defficiencies and errors, no matter how small or insignificant. There are none here. This book is perfection. Read it, love it, come back for more.

Thank you sir

Pros:

- A well portrayed, intimidating Xeno force with cool motives. Harleqins are badass!
- The ruthlessness of Adeptus Mechanicus.
- Wow, the Imperium is really going down the drain. I mean, with a leadership like that...
- The whole Iron Warriors - Black Templars alliance. Also Kalkator is, at the same time, intimidating and fascinating. A truly great villian!

Cons:

- None. Seriously, none. Go and read this book.

Until next time!

Xathrodox86

7/19/2016

Public service annoucement: ZWEIHÄNDER is out!

This will be a short one, but important none the less, especially for all the WFRP fans out there.



The guys from Grim & Perilous Studios have finally released the ZWEIHÄNDER RPG, a successor of sorts of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I've first discovered their project, while browsing through the Strike to Stun forums a while ago, and from the beginning took I knew that this would be something worth following.

Their artworks are glorious as well (property of  Grim & Perilous Studios)

Here are a few words from the game's authors themselves (taken from their website):

"ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG will be the first of its kind to market: an inspired version of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, adaptable for any “grim & perilous” campaign set in the familiar Old World, the politically-inspired intrigues of George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice and Fire, the racial tensions of Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher, the criminal underworld of Scott Lynch’s Lies of Locke Lamora, the war-torn adventures set in Glen Cook’s The Black Company and other Renaissance-inspired adventures."

Altough there is very little chance for the Warhammer Fantasy to make any sort of comeback, this little gem will make sure that anyone, who's lusting after some grim and perilous adventures, will get a fix of their favorite poison.

To check out ZWEIHÄNDER and see if it is indeed your cup of tea, go to their website and check out their work yourselves.

Until next time!

Xathrodox86

7/08/2016

Role-playing Rants: the life of an elitist shitlord

This hobby hasn't been kind to me lately. The flare is gone, it seems, and more and more I reminisce about the old times, better times. Which in turn brings me to rethinking some important stuff. Important for a gamer, that is.

Melancholy aside, the thing that I've wanted to talk about this day is the notion that "mine is better, you are wrong". You know how it works, like when one of your friends buys a new bike from company X and he'll do everything to prove to you that all other bike companies are for plebeians. Yeah, everyone knows a person or two like that. Well, I've found out that in the RPG fandom, such people are more numerous that flies on a piece of crap.
Worst of all, I think I am one.
Why hello there

It's very easy to become like that. You start of small - find yourself a favorite game system, be it a tabletop miniature game or an RPG. It dosen't necesserily have to be a little known, obscure title. Where I live most elitist shitlords are of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay camp, the "one, true polish RPG". Of course that dosen't mean that every polish WFRP player is a douchebag, no, no. It simply means that among all those, who claim that "mine is best and yours suck", the majority spends most of their gaming time in the taverns of Old World, drinking beer (because of course they do).
If you go to any, random polish RPG forum, chance are that you'll bump into a discussion about the superiority of WFRP over, let's say, DnD, World of Darkness or Savage Worlds, or something else. Usually the arguments for that are laughable to say the least, with some of them outright claiming that "DnD is for kiddies, while WFRP is a true man's game" or that "no one here plays anything else". One may wonder where do these people get research to back up their claims. I can tell you where - from their unshakable conviction in things that they hold dear and want to be true, even if they are not.
Something like that

To avoid accusations about being a Sigmar-hating bigot, I'll provide another example and one that is much closer to my heart. For many, many years fans of Classic World of Darkness and those of the New WoD have been clashing with each other, both on internet forums and real life RPG conventions. Lately, after Paradox Entertainment claimed the rights to White Wolf's games and started the Chronicles of Darkness, tensions have been running high. There are those who wish for the classic WoD to return, with all of its splat and overgrown backstory. Then there are those who like the easy to learn and adapt style of the New World of Darkness and wish to see it prosper. Finally we have the CoD (not to be mistaken with a certain video game franchise), which I know fuck all about, so I'm not going to write anything about it.
Personally I always liked the oWoD line of games, mainly for their rich story, memorable characters and easy rules. For me, when it comes to background, the more the merrier. That’s why I never understood why some people were in opposition to this, claiming that it interfered with the game itself. It is at this point, that my elitism became apparent, since I thought “well that’s fucking stupid”.
The worst part is that I still think it’s true.
Words of wisdom

It’s easy to be convinced about something so much, that you’ll want it to be the one and only, true way. It also takes a lot to get rid of such notion of mind. What’s worse is that once you start thinking like that, there are many traps along the way that will hamper your attempts at leaving this mindset behind. You’ll be sitting with your friends, playing your weekly game session, when suddendly one of them says something that immediately triggers your inner shitlord. You’ll think to yourself: “that’s fucking stupid” and will try to prove to him, that his way of thinking is wrong. While not perfect, this way is much, much better than sitting quiet and letting your inner elitist fester with impotent rage, until you’ll finally let him lose upon the world.
But, like I’ve said before, the more you sit in your comfort zone, the bigger the chance is for this of kind of shit to happen. When people do something for long periods of time, no matter if it’s knitting, cooking or playing pen and paper games, they eventually get better at it. The better they are at something, the more they see other folks “flawed” way of thinking when it comes to their favorite thing. Someone will say something marginally different on a subject of your favorite thing, and suddendly he’s a cretin who dosen’t know jack and shit.
Of course it’s up to you to educate the poor, deluded fool on said matter and to show him the error of his ways. Remember that a true elitist shitlord should do so with a bit of irritation in his voice, while rolling his eyes and making odd sounds with his mouth. Looking bored also helps, as it shows that you’re obviously sacrificing your time for that fool who dosen’t know what’s what.
Oh yeah, I’ve been there. I’m like that almost all the time lately, and it really pisses me off. There used to be time when I was just a guy who like what he was doing, who loved his hobby and the chance to share it with his friends. Now it’s just waiting for someone else to piss me the hell off or remembering some stupid slight from previous years, that no one in their right mind would even consider important. I guess we all change with age, but if that’s the case then I’m changing for the worse. That’s not right. That’s not what this should be all about.
It’s time to take a break. A long break.
But not from this blog. There are still many things to write about and only the call of the grave will persuade me to stop doing that.
On a final note to fellow gamers: if you’ll ever observe such tendencies in yourselves, don’t wait for them to grow, act. Talk with your friends, change the system, try something new but above all – work hard to change it within yourselves. Because in the end no one else is going to do that for you and it’s not worth being an elitist shitlord. Trust me on that.
Lonely, cold and miserable

Until next time!
Xathrodox86