Gods and Legends in Post-Cataclysm Earth

Throughout our history, we have recognised the existence of gods, from the Olympians of Ancient Greece, the Asgardians of Norse mythology and the countless pantheons of our forebears. Much of these tales of heroes, gods and legend are mere mythology, but all myth has a grain of truth. After the Cataclysm, this grain of truth became a boulder in the case of some figures of legend.

The gods now walk among us. From Thor and Odin in the newly established Scandinavian League, to the Anubite Society in Egypt. There have been sightings of men, glowing divinely as they undertake impossible feats of strength, and a woman engaging in both fierce study and brutal warfare, accompanied by an owl.

The gods are not solely a post-Cataclysmic phenomenon. They have been to Earth before, informing human legend and society.

Ancient Greece

The Ancient Greeks had plenty of encounters with otherworlders of extreme power. Through intentional and accidental rifts, beings from the plane of Olympia entered our world and interacted with us. While not gods in the sense of omnipotent beings, the Olympians were immortals with extremely powerful sparks, allowing them to channel their internal energy into feats approaching godliness.

The Olympians made forays into our world, but seldom stayed long. They were content to meddle in human affairs, and then retreat back to their plane. Some became intimate with humans, but these occasions were relatively rare (still becoming the stuff of legends).

During the Cataclysm, riftmancy became highly volatile and Olympians who previously had adept control over rifts and crossing into other worlds found themselves trapped on Earth. Most of the Olympians on Earth have gone into hiding, fearing the powers of beings from other worlds that could potentially challenge them. This fear isn’t unfounded, as Hermes was struck down within years of being trapped on Earth by a cabal of sorcerers. Since then, the Olympians have kept a low profile.

The Norse Gods

Unlike the Olympians, the gods of Norse myth that found themselves trapped on Earth have been much more outgoing. Odin used his powers and gravitas to unite the ancestral territories of the people who once followed him – Scandinavia. His son, Thor, has devoted himself to the new Earthly profession of monster hunting, and has formed the top monster hunting guild in the world – the Thunder Corps.

Other Norse gods and their families have also found themselves trapped on Earth and have become figures of influence in Odin’s Scandinavian League.

“The Thunder Corps were legends. A top-level global agency run by Thor, the Norse God of Thunder himself. They handled the top missions and operations that this magical world could throw at them. When the legendary Fafnir decided to make Berlin into his own personal hoard, the Thunder Corps were the ones to send him spiralling into the abyss.” – Kat Drummond, Part-Time Monster Hunter

Conclusion

There exist plenty more gods and figures of human legend now trapped on Earth due to the Cataclysm. Many seek to find a way home, while others make a new home on our planet. While viewed as gods, and very powerful, they are not unstoppable – and most of them know this all too well.

It is this vulnerability that has been so poignant after the Cataclysm. We have discovered the flaws of our living legends, and it has revealed our own flaws to us. But in a way, this has made the legends more human. Sincerer. Perhaps, we can learn more from the fallible beings, once of myth, than the perfect heroes we had constructed based on trickery thousands of years ago. With this new knowledge, perchance we can do better than our fallen gods – or become even worse.

The Spark: Magic After the Cataclysm

It started with a spark. Nobody knows where this spark came from. Sure, they know it comes from the Vortex – the colossal tower of pure magical energy that sprung up in the Siberian tundra, giving way for the Cataclysm to occur – but where did it come from before then?

Some say it was here all along. Only hidden. It existed within the wind, the trees, the ocean depths and all elements that make up our world. It was a latent energy that only needed the spark of the Vortex to awaken – like the ignition of tinder.

Other experts argue that magic, the Spark, came from another world in the same manner as all the monsters and otherworldly beings. This world of magic is not a solid plane, like that of Earth, Olympia, the Norse worlds or the countless other planes bleeding onto Earth, but a dimension of pure energy – dripping said energy into our world like rain through a leak in the roof.

Regardless of the true origins of the Spark and the magic it enables, it is here now and humans need to understand it in order to use it.

The Human Spark

After the Vortex appeared, something started happening to seemingly random humans of all ages and backgrounds. They began to feel a well of power within themselves. A latent energy at their core. Through some cosmic fate or pure arbitrariness, some humans now had magic.

“It all started with a spark. The Spark. The Cataclysm didn’t start with monsters and demons. It started with humans. Glowing orbs rising from the hands of office workers, fireballs being flung by homeless people and an overwhelming arrogance by people who had gained immense power by sheer luck.” – Kat Drummond, Part-Time Monster Hunter.

People with a spark are called sorcerers. Sorcery, the term used for their type of magic, involves willpower and self-control to be able to harness their internal magic to do their bidding. This takes the form of controlling elements, manipulating the world around them or simply exerting pure power.

Not all sorcerers are created equally, however. Sorcerers have affinities – certain acts of magic that they naturally prefer. Some may feel an affinity to fire and become natural pyromancers. Others may be more comfortable harnessing their natural power to channel into more refined pursuits, like enchanting or divination.

Affinities aside, sorcerers also have varying levels of power. Initially, power levels were random. Spark is semi-hereditary, however. Strong sorcerers typically give birth to strong sorcerers and carry on a powerful magical bloodline. But, as is the case with all things, this isn’t always true. Some powerful sorcerer families will give birth to a weak sorcerer or, rifts forbid, a husk!

“Husk – a derogatory term for a non-sorcerer.”

An easy way to think about sorcerers and their spark is like a battery. They are their own battery and can harness their own magical energy to use as they will. Willpower and power willing, of course.

Spark is exhausted as a sorcerer uses it, simultaneously exhausting the user physically. After a rest, spark does replenish, in the same manner as stamina. It has been known for sorcerers to turn themselves into husks by over-exerting themselves on particularly harsh and powerful casts, however.

Weylines

The Vortex didn’t only place Spark in the core of humans, but also spread it across the world. Think of the Vortex like a waterfall of magical energy. Now imagine that waterfall snaking out, like rivers or tendrils throughout the world. These rivers of magical energy are called weylines.

When the big rift opened – the Vortex in Siberia – it released tendrils, like roots from a tree. These spread throughout the world. Where they passed, the new magic-users of the world felt immense power. These were dubbed weylines, inspired by the elves who subsequently colonised northern New Zealand and parts of Ireland. People flocked to weylines. Enchantments were stronger there. Magic-users flourished. And people in their vicinity just felt good. Weylines exuded a sense of purity. But not all weylines were good, and not all good weylines necessarily remained so.” – Kat Drummond, Part-Time Monster Hunter.

While sorcerers tap into their own magical reserves to use magic, wizardry is the complex art of tapping into weylines to use magic. This is a complicated process, requiring years of study, experimentation and knowledge. If sorcery is raw power, then wizardry is refined knowledge.

Wizardry, due to its refined nature, is a lot more focused and versatile than sorcery. While sorcerers are typically powerful, if blunt instruments, wizards can fine-tune their incantations and enchantments to suit very specific purposes. But they are limited. Wizards cannot use their magic everywhere. They require weylines of the appropriate type of energy and the knowledge to tap into the weyline and transfer that energy to a suitable incantation, rune or enchantment.

The most basic form of wizardry is incantation. Wizards can figure out how to voice their will into vocal totems or runes. These are called spells. If a wizard knows the words of a spell, they can channel a weyline into the spoken spell to cast it.

Most wizardry is done in the form of enchantment and runemancy. Objects are imbued with magical energy through the use of magical symbols, runes and circles of power. These can take the form of enchanting clothing to always stay dry, or vellum to carry a purifying aura to ward off evils spirits. Once created in a weyline, enchanted items can carry their magic anywhere – but this magic cannot be recycled, only destroyed.

Dark Magic

Weylines have characteristics. Simply: they can be good or bad. The nature of a weyline determines a number of things, but in relation to the topic of this article, weyline characteristics aid in what spells can be cast in it. In addition: the types of spells cast in a weyline determine its characteristics.

Spells of a good nature, like purification and healing magic, clean up a weyline and make it good. Creatures like pixies are also known to clean up weylines.

Spells of neutral characteristics, like elementalism, have no effect, positive or negative.

Dark magic, such as necromancy or demonology, corrupt weylines.

Weylines have profound effects on their denizens. People residing in corrupted weylines are more prone to depression, anger and random acts of violence and crime. Denizens of pure weylines are more likely to feel good and act good.

Conclusion

The Cataclysm, while decades old, is still a relatively new phenomenon. Magic is still an active school of study and much is still unknown about it. Perhaps, humans will discover its origins and nature in time, and with it, discover more about themselves and their interaction with this new power.

Hopefully, with this knowledge, humans will gain the wisdom to not use magic as yet another tool to destroy each other.

Announcing Part-Time Monster Hunter

The Warpmancer Series has reached its ninth book, available September 4th. For fans of my science fiction epic, I hope you enjoy! It is a culmination of all the arcs that came before it, and the first meeting of many of the characters from my extensive cast. It has been an ambitious series and will continue to be so in the upcoming sequels. But I’m not only going to be working on Warpmancer going forward. I have begun work on a new series in a new genre. This new series is called Part-Time Monster Hunter (PTMH).

The series is an urban fantasy set in a twisted and alternate history 21st century, where portals have opened up allowing fantastical beasts, dark magic and the heroes and gods of mythology into our world. It has been decades since the initial opening of these rifts and humanity has begun to adjust to a magical way of life.

I am really excited about this story! I love fantasy, but have only ever written sci-fi. This series lets me explore my other favourite genre, and a new style of storytelling. While Warpmancer focusing on a large cast of major characters, PTMH focuses on a single main character and how she reacts to the world. This allows me to get much more personal and develop a character as I’ve never done before.

Because of the rift aspect of the story, I am able to borrow from many aspects of traditional fantasy and mythology – including Norse, Greek and Arthurian legend. This means an extensive canvas and very fun interactions as the likes of Thor tangles with Athena in a modern setting.

The PTMH universe borrows from the myths and legends of many cultures, including traditional epic fantasy and some creative license on my part.

If you are as excited as I am about the story, you don’t have to wait. You can download a the first five chapters of book one now, and sign up for the opportunity to receive the books for free.

Download the first five chapters here!

I hope you enjoy and stay tuned for more info on this exciting new series.

Crowdfunding Warpmancer Re-Release

I started writing the Warpmancer Series in 2009. Back then, the book was going to be called “The Trooper” and was going to be a stand-alone. As I approached finishing it in 2013, I realised that it needed to be a series. First, I called the planned series “The Terra War Saga”. Fortunately, I realised that was boring and renamed it to the Warpmancer Series, starting with Fall of Zona Nox. The series has drastically shifted since the completion of Fall of Zona Nox in 2013 and now I feel it is time for a reboot.

My recent releases, including Godkiller and my short stories, trump Fall of Zona Nox completely in writing quality and story complexity. This is to be expected. I wrote them in 2017, after a lot of improvement to my writing.

Fall of Zona Nox isn’t the worst indie sci-fi ever and it has positive reviews, but I can see by read-through rate to its sequel, Rise of the Defiant, that it is doing my series a profound disservice. Its inferior writing quality is putting off a lot of readers of the series and losing me an opportunity to make a career out of sci-fi.

So, I’m re-releasing Fall of Zona Nox into a trilogy of three books. This trilogy will be the first three books in the Warpmancer series and be nicknamed the Zona Nox Arc. They will be titled: Shadow, Trooper and Captain – representing James’ rise through the ranks. They will be immediately followed by a re-branded Rise of the Defiant, titled “Defiant”.

I want this trilogy to be as high quality as possible. I believe that the Warpmancer series is and can be a valuable addition to science fiction. I just need to perfect my first books as much as possible so that people will give the rest of the series a chance.

To do this, I need your help.

I need to hire a professional developmental editor to help me make Shadow as great as possible. To do this, I will need R10 600 (approx $900). To help me fund this endeavour, I have started a crowdfund.

You can check out the crowdfund here.

All help is much appreciated and contributors have the opportunity to get some great rewards – like having their names featured in the series.

Even if you can’t help with money, I am also in need of beta readers to help me improve the book, as well as a street team to help me share the book upon release. If you would like to help out in anyway, sign up to my mailing list for future instructions. You can sign up to my mailing list here.

I will be posting more about the re-release as they become relevant. Stay tuned!

New Trooper Ranks and Structure

Concept Art of a Trooper by Tolulope Adeojo.

The Trooper Order’s Military (as distinguished from the Armada, Order-Logistics and Order-Administration) is loosely based off Earth ranks that have been heavily simplified and adjusted. Many administrative roles are no longer needed to be carried out by the likes of Staff Sergeants and Majors, so the Order has cut out these ranks and kept only what is necessary for a coherent chain of command.

Ranks

High Protector: First among equals of the Council-Generals. Makes final decision when consensus cannot be achieved. Can be seen as the ruler of the Trooper Order.

Council-General: An almost peerless general tasked with directing the grand strategy of the Order, including the affairs of the Armada, Logistics and Order.

Planetary General: The highest ranking general and commanding officer on a planet.

General: Leads an army made up of 2-5 sections.

Force Commander: Leads a force of 2-5 divisions.

Colonel: Leads a division of 2-5 companies.

Captain: Leads a company of 3-5 platoons.

Lieutenant: Leads a platoon of 3-5 squads.

Strike Leader: Leads a strike team of 10-20 men. Answers to superior officers but not formally a part of any greater structure. Acts semi-independently.

Sergeant:  Leads a squad of 6-12 men.

Corporal: Leads a fireteam or section of 2-6 men.

Lance Corporal: Leads a patrol of 1-3 men.

Specialist: Specially trained personnel.

Private: Inducted Trooper.

Trainee/Recruit: Informally inducted Trooper.

Structures

Patrol: 1-3 infantry with regular equipment.

Fireteam: 2-4 infantry with 1 special equipment (sniper, heavy, engineering, close combat, demolitions).

Squad: 4-10 infantry. Can have a dedicated small transport. 2-5 special equipment.

Strike Team: 11-20 infantry with whatever equipment is needed for the particular mission.

Platoon: 12-50 personnel with multiple dedicated transport, 1-3 armoured support and respective special equipment per a squad. Also takes the place of a specialist corps, such as a dedicated Artillery platoon.

Company: 36-250 personnel with all respective perks of each body within, with extra possible access to a dedicated starship and 5-10 additional armoured support.

Division: 80-1250 personnel with an HQ. 10-25 additional armoured support.

Section: 160-6250 personnel with an optional flagship.  50-100 additional armoured support.

Army: 320-31250 personnel with Major Base HQ, flagship and 250-500 additional armoured support.

Planetary Group: Can contain any number of armies, ranging from 100 to 1 million personnel.

System Group: Can contain any number of planetary groups, population willing.

The Order: The current predicted headcount of Trooper combat personnel is sitting at approximately three billion and rising. They are divided into approximately fifteen thousand system groups and then into thirty thousand planetary groups.

 

Philosophy of the Imperial Council

The big baddies of the Warpmancer Universe, like any three-dimensional entity, isn’t some basic evil formed in a vacuum. Like in reality, everyone and everything finds its inspiration and origin in a philosophy. The Imperial Council and their founding races are no different.

It is very rare for the villain to think of themselves as one. For the Edal and Ulyx who lead the Imperial Council, they are heroes. While some may acknowledge their crimes, they have greater goods to absolve themselves.

But what is this philosophy? What is the Imperial Doctrine? And what real world Earth philosophies inspired these ideas?

Imperial Doctrine

The Edal, the ancient and beautiful warrior race that provides the viciousness to contrast with the Ulyx’s cold calculation, are not based in a philosophy of violence. War is their culture, but the philosophy behind their war is much more peaceful.

The Edal believe in an ideal state – a utopia that needs to be preserved. While many human utopianists believe we must still work towards a utopia, the dominant Edal philosophy is that there was or is an ideal state and that the goal of life is preservation, not progress.

The specifics of this society are not clear, and that is probably fortunate. If the society was formalised, the police state of the Edal would probably crush countless contravening individuals. Rather, this ideal state is a vague idea of aesthetics, technology and loyalty to the Martyrs and the Council.

Psychologically, this desire for preservation is probably wrought from a cultural fear of change. The political class are victims of this as well. Only a few rulers, probably some of the Martyrs, have probably ever considered that the Edal’s obsession with the purity of the now is a bit arbitrary.

The Ulyx depart from their conservative allies and become much more utilitarian. While the Edal have established unassailable doctrine, the Ulyx have a very basic principle that governs their intergalactic politics – peace.

It must seem very ironic to think of peace being a governing tenet of the Imperial Doctrine. The Edal are very much not peaceful. “Degora ten Alka,” is a common Edal adage and oath, meaning: “Glory in War.” Practically meaning: one can only find glory and meaning through war.

The Ulyx are different. They believe the goal of war to be a lack of it. For centuries before encountering the Edal, the Ulyx had explored the stars and observed countless conflicts. The dominant belief came to form that these conflicts needed to be stopped and the only way to do this was through sheer force.

The Ulyx principle is: peace through the sword.

The Ulyx befriended the Edal not to join their crusade, but to use them as the sword that would bring peace to the galaxy.

As a result of these two philosophies, Imperial Doctrine formed to highlight the importance of hierarchy and order. Edal society is feudal and Ulyx society is based on rule by science-political class. Both have sacrificed freedom for the preservation of an ideal state and the pursuit of peace.

In the real world

As the Imperial Council’s beliefs didn’t form in a vacuum, neither did mine. Imperial culture and philosophy finds three major inspirations in philosophy and history, besides the very obvious aesthetic connection to the Roman Empire.

The Edal find their inspiration in Plato’s idea of the perfect state. Plato believed in the rule of a Philosopher King over society. This is found in the Ulyx society, but also in Edallic society. Councillors are basically philosophers, but they all share a common creed.

This isn’t far detached from Plato’s idea of a perfect society. Plato wasn’t a liberal. He believed that there was one right ideology and that it needed to be enforced. He also believed that there was an ideal state of society and that it needed to be preserved.

As garnered from Popper’s The Open Society and its Enemies, Plato believed that the only good progress was a return to the perfect society that humans had lost. Edal are similar. They believe that they had once achieved perfection and that their goal is to maintain it as much as possible. There is no interrogation of their ideas or realities – only unquestionable loyalty to stasis.

The Ulyx’s ideology of peace and order comes from an English philosopher named Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes proposed the idea of a leviathan, a super-state or ruler that is so powerful that they can maintain peace and order and prevent society from devolving into what Hobbes called “a state of nature”.

Both these ideologies are actually pretty congruent. The Edal want to preserve an ordered society and the Ulyx want peace within this ordered society. But how is this deeper philosophy achieved on a cultural level?

Despite their aesthetics being based off Rome, the Edal are heavily based off Imperial Japan. They subscribe to an overwhelming doctrine of duty and a hierarchy based off responsibility and servitude. The relationship between ruler and ruled in Edallic society isn’t based off capriciousness, but a mutual understanding of everyone’s natural place in the world.

In Imperial Japan, the Emperor wasn’t a God. He was a man who was just as much a servant to custom and culture than every other Japanese citizen. The same goes for Edal society. The Warp-lords and Councillors may hold land, but they are expected to protect and lead their people. Filfs have very few rights, but it is expected that they are protected and that they are not wastefully expended.

Like Imperial Japan, there is a space for everyone in Edallic society – as long as you do your duty and follow the doctrine.

Discourse

Like humanity, the Edal and Ulyx are not unitary. Individuals within the races and society have disagreements. Attentive readers may notice quotes within my books by Ulyx and Edal sounding individuals speaking of very un-Imperial ideas.

While there is no freedom of speech or thought in Imperial territory, space is big. Edal and Ulyx free thinkers often escape to Free Space, where they find jobs as academics in human and Exanoid society.

Jherin Kura’kaia, mentioned a few times throughout the series, is an Ulyx economist and philosopher renowned for his ideas of galactic commerce. He is a free market libertarian who argues for the opening of as many societies as possible to peaceful trade.

Jherin would have been killed if he had stayed in Imperial territory. On Mars, he is safe to preach his ideas of liberty and commerce.

His brethren still located in Imperial Space are not so lucky.

Did you enjoy this expose of Imperial Philosophy? What other aspects of Warpmancer Lore would you like to learn about? Please let me know in the comment section below.

Change: Tales of Chiid (Fantasy Short Story)

Featured Image Source

This short story was written as a high school English assignment years ago. I still enjoy it. I hope you do too.


Ash fell as it always did and always would. Every day it was the same scene – ash falling from the sky, blanketing an already drab landscape in a depressing gray. Only the occasional rains helped clear the ash falls and, more often than not, just aggravated them by turning the gray substance into mush akin to the snows of the north.

Yes, it was a day like any other. Ash always fell in the city Quorn and always would. It was one of the by-products of the city’s industry after all, and most knew that without the ash, they would all soon wither and die. Like the plants that said ash had already killed. Well, that statement is only partly true as the ash did indeed kill plants, but only if plants had already been growing there in the first place.

Quorn was situated in a wasteland, an area called the Blight of Chiid, an inhospitable land where no sane man would settle – and that was true, no sane man did live there or anywhere in Chiid for that matter.

Quorn was a city of orcs, but not just any orcs. Quorn was a city of orc industrialists, industrialists who were the principal reason for the ash.
After Warlord Grugon-Zot answered the Alledonian declaration of war, the need for weapons and supplies became greater than any one small confederacy of city states could handle. But the Warlord did not fear, as he knew his people and their insatiable hunger for development.

So, as any good industrial-era monarch would, he sent the weapon and mining guilds up north to oust natives from their territory and replace tribal lands with towering factories and ash-spewing refineries. Quorn was one such city that was founded as a result of this and it is in Quorn that our tale begins.

Rez’targ squinted into the downpour of rain and ash as he trod down the inappropriately packed streets of Quorn. The presence of rain disappointingly did not do much to thin the torrents of ash and Rez’targ found himself sighing, realizing it would be one of those winter days which would best be spent lying next to the warm hearth of the inn which he had, in fact, previously inhabited, armed with nothing but a mug of ale and some good thoughts.

He knew the world didn’t work that way, and just grudgingly continued on his way down the street, preparing himself to be armed with a pick, opposed to the more desirable beverage. Rez’targ’s days were simple. He would awake in the morning – he didn’t really note the time as it was always gray and dull in Quorn – head to the market to buy some imported bread for breakfast and then head to his job at the mines. The monotony of his existence would have bored even the most optimistic person, but Rez’targ knew the alternative and was thankful for it. He was by no means an underprivileged orc.

Sure, he wasn’t born in a Great Clan or as the heir to a rich guildsman, but he knew how to work and what to expect in life. Yes, the monotony bored him, but it also comforted him. He would much rather be working and eating than the alternatives of either slacking and starving or fighting and dying in the south.

The market was somewhat like the street, crowded, but today, the reasons for the crowd were different. Rez’targ tried to ignore the new addition but it was hard to avert his eyes as he tried to haggle with the bread merchant for a fairer price.

Erected (seemingly overnight) in the middle of the large flat expanse which was the public market, was a stage and, upon that stage stood, in Rez’targ’s view, one of the most majestic looking orcs he had ever seen outside of the Great Clans. Yerla-Gozt stood upon the stage, flanked by two guards armed with nothing but banners.

The banners were blue; contrasting against the usual red of the Chiid government and upon the banners read the text: “Durb ob Hai” – Rule of the People.

Yerla-Gozt was yelling something inaudible to Rez’targ but by the looks of the people surrounding the platform, it was something they liked and Rez’targ found himself being drawn closer towards the centre of the market area, chewing his newly purchased breakfast.

Yerla-Gozt was utilizing a cone-like device to amplify his voice, allowing people from all around the market to hear. The crowd itself was what got in the way of the seemingly ingenious public speech tool as the shouting and cheering interfered with hearing the reasons for the shouting and cheering.

Rez’targ found himself enthralled nonetheless with the words he could hear. He heard words like ‘democracy’ and ‘equality’, concepts he had heard much about before but had never dwelled on; the Crimson Hand made sure people didn’t ponder things they weren’t meant to ponder.

The speech went on and sometimes Rez’targ found himself cheering with the crowd but as it went on and people began to show a little too much enthusiasm, Rez’targ knew he wasn’t safe. Glancing around quickly he saw what he had suspected. Lining the roofs of the surrounding buildings, just out of sight of the political rallyists, were soldiers. Armed with rifle and baton they surrounded the large conglomerate of people, only now being noticed.

Rez’targ had prepared for this, however; he was always prepared. He knew it was illegal and typically stayed away from anything that could endanger his life, but he knew he would need it one day and the opportunity when he was offered it was just too great to pass up.
Shoving towards the soldiers barricading the eastern entrance, he withdrew his illegal document – a perfect forgery indicating his obviously fake position as a civic official.

He had gained the document from a friend who ran in the underground, a strange orc who had spent most of his life in Sirdovia, among humans. This orc was named Kurt and was a photographer. He possessed one of, if not the only, non-government camera in Chiid. With the camera, he had taken a flawless photo of Rez’targ and then utilized it to make a document that would get Rez’targ out of almost any trouble.

The deal had cost him very little in the short term but Rez’targ felt it would bring something bad upon him sometime in the future – the Crimson Hand always knew these things, even if later rather than sooner; they always found out. Flashing his papers to the officer, he was allowed past and just in time as he heard rifles fire and smelt the scent of gun powder and sulphur mix with the acrid odour of the wet ash.
The rally had turned into a protest and then a riot; the Crimson Hand couldn’t let that go on for longer and had opened fire, no doubt killing Yerla-Gozt in the first pull of the trigger. This is what happened when someone opposed the Crimson Hand, it’s what always happened, and so what was the use of resisting? To Rez’targ, there was no use – to him, life would always be monotony, a boring and unpleasant routine. He was just thankful to be alive.

He didn’t look back as he continued his way to the mines but, along the way, he wished he had. Every morning he passed this building, and every morning he regretted it. The Crimson Hand office was imposing to say the least, as it stood towering over the neighbouring buildings, casting a long shadow over the already dark and depressing city.

Crimson Hand agents and soldiers always congregated around the building and if Rez’targ had his way, he would always avoid those two types of people. Those weren’t the most unsettling things about the building. Inlaid upon the entire wall, creating a living image upon stone, were the screaming sculptured faces of the now dead.

This was the wall of Blight, a reminder to all orcs that no matter how bad they think their lives might be, it’s not the state’s fault but the fault of elves and humans. Rez’targ didn’t really care about the historical connotations but did feel that the wall did its purpose of creating fear.
Hastening his pace, he tramped onward towards the mines, avoiding the suspicious glares of guards and soldiers as he crossed over a military base line, marking off the area between the mining and workers districts.

Upon entering the small checkpoint, Rez’targ was not surprised to see many familiar faces from the protest lined up against the wall. He averted his gaze but could still see the uncovered faces stare at him hopefully, pleadingly, as he passed and they were shot down. Rez’targ forced down pity, anger and all emotions. Death happened, killing happened, nothing would ever change that.

The coal mines were as they always were – a doorway into a mountain which was supposedly filled with black rocks which made fire hotter. Rez’targ had been working at this mine for most of his life. He had worked there, grown up there, lost friends and family there. His years of work and surviving said work had paid off and he knew it as he received one of the rare promotions seen in Quorn.

Miners were typically all the same, orcs who went underground to go chip at rocks and hopefully get something useful out of them, but through showing himself as useful, the Overseer had decided that Rez’targ’s unusual intelligence would be better suited for other things.

Rez’targ was the quarter master, if you will, of the mines. His job was to count what was needed and make sure it reached its desired recipient. It was a tedious job but much more useful and safer than that of a delver – Rez’targ was thankful for that. Signing in with the Overseer, he noted how many of the coal miners were absent, most probably shot at the protest. Fighting down any sort of emotion at the loss of colleagues, he continued to his work station where he began sorting through the tools necessary for the miner’s daily work. After outfitting the correct kit, he placed the supplies upon a sleigh which he then shoved off into the tunnel to be retrieved by some hot and thirsty miner.

This routine normally went on for hours without break but it was better than the back breaking labour of the mines; most things were. Sometimes miners would come up early and ask for a lessened wage in exchange for leaving earlier. Depending on the Overseers mood, it would go through or not.

Today, however, something strange happened. The Overseer sat in his usual seat, overlooking the gray and dull industrial complex which was Quorn and as usual, orc miners came up from the mines to speak to him. What was particularly bizarre, was that not one or two miners appeared, but all thirty of this hour’s shift. Hubris kept the guards blissfully arrogant but Rez’targ knew better – something bad was about to happen, something which he didn’t want to be a part of.

Edging nondescriptly around his workstation, he prepared to take cover as the miners continued to advance towards the outside office of the Overseer to eventually surround him and his guards who were only now starting to notice that something was amiss.

It happened all at once but, as the Overseer opened his mouth to deliver a snide comment to the supposed leader of the miners. He was shot. The previously unarmed miner had been carrying a pistol, gods know where he found it, but regardless, he had just killed the Overseer, Rez’targ’s employer. So did this mean the work day was over?

The guards fell as quickly as their boss, dying agape as their haughtiness was crushed by the heavier substance of a lead shell. Rez’targ could see everything as it unfolded, workers killing oppressors and oppressors killing workers. More guards charged in but the workers, now armed with the weapons of their previous rulers, fought back. Blood sprayed and bullets flew, as cartridges emptied, so did the life of its owner. Some turned to close combat, utilizing their rifle or pistol as a club but only few succeeded in that endeavour.

Eventually, the conflict trickled down as the fighting poured over into the military camp. Rez’targ took this opportunity to leave the now abandoned coal mine, gliding cautiously over the now corpse-covered ground as ash continued to fall, moulding with the puddles of blood to create a slimy red mush. Stepping carefully along the way, he finally passed the now slaughtered military camp.

The city burned as he walked, houses crumbled and people screamed. Gunfire sounded in the distance and both rebels and soldiers fought in the streets. Rez’targ ignored both as he made his journey home.
He didn’t concern himself with the conflict. He didn’t concern himself with the fact that the now burning Crimson Hand building was being draped over by the blue banners of Yerla-Gozt, now a political martyr. He didn’t concern himself with the fact that chanting could be heard all around the city, “Durb ob Hai!” – Rule of the People.

As he walked, Rez’targ knew that Chiid was changing; he knew that the world was changing but he also knew that people would never change. This ‘democracy’ would still be murder, equality would still be slavery.  The ash would still fall and blood would always be spilt to paint it red. Rez’targ knew that things never really changed.

The Trooper Order: Governance and Bodies

“The basis of all Trooper power is that of security. The Troopers are not builders. They are not bureaucrats. They are soldiers. And like any enlightened military – they know better than intervening in the affairs of peace.” – High Protector Winston Mengel of Mars.

The Trooper Order is not only a military, but also serves as the government of Mars. For the affairs of peace, however, the High Command has ceded the peaceful running of Mars to the High Court of Mars and the Administration. The former runs the civilian functions of justice and conflict arbitration, while the latter utilises an array of AI and a few bureaucrats to maintain Mars’ few civilian public utilities, including major transport arteries and zoning. The rest of the affairs of peace are run by private enterprises and voluntary associations.

The Trooper Order itself is also divided into a number of bodies with their own structures and functions.

Concept design of a Trooper infantryman.

The Trooper Order

The core army of the Troopers bears the same name as the faction. It contains the armoured and infantry divisions of the military and is the most populated of the Trooper bodies.

Order-Logistics

An army marches on its stomach. Luckily, while past armies had to dedicate often twenty support staff to a single combatant, the Order-Logistics has managed to streamline the supply lines of the Trooper army, manufacturing and shipping equipment and supplies with the use of 36th century manufacturing technology.

The Order-Logistics blends with the Trooper Order and the Trooper Aramda in that Trooper Engineers owe allegiance to both the Order and the Order-Logistics, and that the Armada is integral to defending logistics freighters. The Order-Logistics is the primary provisioner of the entire Order, running all the supply lines of the faction.

Trooper Armada

A space-age army needs space-age transportation. The Arnada exists to ship troops between worlds and combat operations, as well as the use of combat vessels to wage space warfare and defend friendly space routes from pirates and the enemies of humanity. The Armada also maintains a network of space stations around the galaxy, many of which contain civilians. They act as de jure and de facto government of these space stations.

Diplomatic Corp

The Troopers seek to unite humanity to ensure survival and prosperity through cooperation. They also seek to maintain friendly relations with many alien races. To achieve this, the Troopers utilise the Diplomatic Corp to scout space for remnants of the human diaspora, make contact and cement relations. Diplomats are also used to ensure peace between willing alien races.

Concept design of a Trooper Officer.

Other Bodies

The Trooper Order is vast and highly decentralised. As such, many outfits, groups and other bodies have formed under the Trooper banner. Here are some examples:

  • The Red Sand Rangers: Founded on Zona Nox, the Red Sand Rangers are a crack-team of snipers and frontiersmen who have since become a legendary special operatives outfit that operates on the frontier of human space.
  • The Ganymede Auxiliary: The Ganymede Incident saw many non-humans fight alongside the Troopers, even forming their own outfit as a testament to their numbers.
  • Civilian governments: Despite the wishes of Trooper leaders, like Winston Mengel, many Troopers establish civilian governments on other worlds. An example of this would be the attempts at establishing a government in Galis City on Zona Nox and the domineering nature of Governor Dedelux on Nova Zarxa.
  • Zarxan Military Police: Governor Dedelux’s personal Trooper army.

The Training and Life of a Trooper

The Trooper Order, humanity’s protector and the sovereign government of Mars, is a military organisation founded in 3001 T.C by Colonel Utho von Rothhardt. Since its inception, the Troopers have acted as an army acting on behalf of all mankind. Its sovereign control over Mars, containing the largest human population in space, has allowed it to achieve much of this goal.

The Troopers have a varied structure throughout space. On Mars and the core worlds, Troopers are recruited from the population and trained rigorously in the art of modern warfare. On the frontier, the Trooper outposts and forces don’t have such luxury, and tend to resemble more a disparate militia than a highly trained and organised fighting force.

Trooper Ranks

Concept design of a Trooper

Troopers reward merit above all else. Promotion is completely dependent on combat experience on core worlds. While this same principle applies to frontier worlds and combat zones, each Trooper does have the ability to promote and recruit in relation to their own rank. This is due to a high turnover in dangerous areas, where formal promotion is unlikely and a chain of command needs to be maintained.

High Protector: First among equals of the Council-Generals. Makes final decision when consensus cannot be achieved. Can be seen as the ruler of the Trooper Order.

Council-General: An almost peerless general tasked with directing the grand strategy of the Order, including the affairs of the Armada, Logistics and Order.

Planetary General: The highest ranking general and commanding officer on a planet.

General: Leads an army made up of 2-5 sections.

Force Commander: Leads a force of 2-5 divisions.

Colonel: Leads a division of 2-5 companies.

Captain: Leads a company of 3-5 platoons.

Lieutenant: Leads a platoon of 3-5 squads.

Strike Leader: Leads a strike team of 10-20 men. Answers to superior officers but not formally a part of any greater structure. Acts semi-independently.

Sergeant:  Leads a squad of 6-12 men.

Corporal: Leads a fireteam or section of 2-6 men.

Lance Corporal: Leads a patrol of 1-3 men.

Specialist: Specially trained personnel.

Private: Inducted Trooper.

Trainee/Recruit: Informally inducted Trooper.

Recruitment (Core Worlds)

Core worlds are highly developed planets with generally well-educated and wealthy populations. Troopers recruit volunteers from core worlds. Many Trooper funded settlements around the Great Terra system and its neighbours encourage generations of Trooper recruits. Conscription is not used in the core worlds, as the high life expectancy of a core world Trooper and the use of syns (drones) has made the practice obsolete.

On planets like Mars, service is expected and often culturally pressured on many Martians. Trooper Dynasties and houses, ruled by Troopers who have lived centuries due to bio-tech and cybernetics often press their descendants into service.

Training and Service (Core Worlds)

Training involves a strict and advanced curriculum of military science, weapons usage and other specialty courses. The Military Academy of Mars and the Trooper University of Military Science are breeding grounds for Trooper officers. Troopers with lower ambitions and means are trained in virtual reality combat trainers, among basic training provided by the Order.

After completing training, recruits can choose their assignment. They can either join the planetary guard or choose to be sent to a combat operation. The Martian turnover of over a million recruits a year has been more than sufficient to man these initiatives, not including recruitment across the other core worlds.

Equipment is the finest that humanity has to offer. A typical infantryman will be equipped with full-kinetic and energy-proof body armour, Aegis smart-rifles, a wide array of combat gadgets and medical equipment. They are typically deployed from orbit as shock troops, following orbital bombardment by the Trooper fleet (which, while being under the High Command, has its own structure).

Concept design of a Red Sand Ranger, an elite frontier Trooper from Zona Nox.

Recruitment (Frontier)

Conscription and militias are more common than professional soldiers on the frontier. Generals and commanders on the frontier are often desperate for soldiers, and will press locals (primarily convicts) into service. Volunteer militias are also common. Often, the Troopers are the only employer on many frontier planets, so life as a Trainee or Private is the best option.

Training (Frontier)

Recruits on frontier worlds are lucky to be allowed practice at a range. Sometimes, instructors can provide some semblance of training, but more often, dangers and constant conflict do not allow for such trivialities. Frontier Troopers are forged in fire and often do not live long enough to see themselves promoted higher than sergeant.

When a frontier Trooper does survive long enough to be promoted, they become legendary. One such example is Marshal Rekkie of Zona Nox, who has since become known as the Slayer of Ganymede. Marshal started out as a militiaman for the Troopers on Zona Nox, finally achieving the rank of strike leader. He helped found the Red Sand Rangers, an outfit of Trooper snipers who have since become a formal body in the Order specialising in frontier operations. While life is hard for a frontier Trooper, there are opportunities for the skilled and lucky.

Conclusion

The Trooper Order has an ambitious function and in its service to mankind, it has to sacrifice scruples on many occasions. While the core world army is sufficient to fight humanity’s major wars against alien empires and the ever-increasing threat of the Imperial Council, it cannot be everywhere at once. In addition, the formal training and advanced technology has proven to be a crutch for many core-world Troopers in many hostile environments. For that reason, frontier Troopers, no matter their lack of training, equipment or etiquette, will always be an integral part of humanities’ finest.

The Edal

The Edal are an alien race from the Warpmancer Universe. They make up the bulk forces of the primary antagonist, the Imperial Council. Edal culture features in the Devil Child Arc, starting with Godkiller.

At a Glance

Species Name: Edal

Species Archetype: Anthromorphic Mammal

Homeworld: Grelaz

Dominant Language: Edallic

Warpmancy Status: Naturally proficient

Dominant faction: All non-dissident Edal are citizens of the Imperial Council.

Biology and Appearance

Artist: Tolulope Adeojo

The Edal are anthromorphic mammals, evolving down a similar path to humans. Their ears are long, ranging between 5 to 10 inches from lobe to a pointed end. Edal exhibit a range of blue hues as skin colours. Their hair colours are diverse, ranging from what would be deemed naturally human pigments, to hues similar to their skin colour. Edal are typically taller than humans, ranging from 6 to 7 feet tall. While there are notable exceptions, a fast metabolism and active lifestyle have left most Edal with a thin physique.

Edal are mammals and reproduce in effectively the same manner as humans. Their harsh homeworld has given them an advanced immune system, making them natural space pioneers and settlers. Due to this, medical technology is not as advanced in Edal space, due to a lack of need. This heightened immune system has given the Edal a much greater natural life span, and life expectancy.

Culture

A beautiful, graceful people, focused on uniting the stars with fire and blood. Th Edal are a hardy race, with a dominant martial culture. Edal culture is very regimented, with authority being maintained through a variety of means. The core worlds are freer than the others, but are held together by a strict and well-oiled bureaucracy and thought-police. The outer planets are subjugated by a feudal system, designed to maximise production to feed the military machine.

Art, poetry, music and other aspects of culture are all formed to complement the war-machine. Stories commemorate battles, poetry glorifies war, and music is to inspire troops to action. Counter-cultural movements have not been successful in curbing this.

But many poets and philosophers have arisen throughout Edal history. Many of these have survived the strictly ultra-traditionalist hegemon, finding safe haven in the more tolerant Ulyx worlds.

Edal religion is more political than spiritual. The Martyrs, the Edallic gods, walk among them, so faith does not factor into the religion. Imperial doctrine is a codex of duties and restrictions as a citizen. Their religion is a dogma of being a good subject.

Politics and Government

The Edal are the founding race of the Imperial Council, founding it 10 000 cycles before the fall of Earth. In recent years, the government has stagnated, as the Martyrs and Councillors maintain control of the council across millennia.

The Imperial Council is a totalitarian theocracy, ruled by a bureaucracy called ‘the Council’ and godlike beings called ‘Martyrs’. Through overwhelming force, spiritual propaganda and terror, the Imperial Council has maintained power over huge tracts of the galaxy.

On the ground, Edal planets range between the core worlds, which run as well-oiled bureaucratic machines, and overtly oppressive feudal worlds, ruled by Warpmancer clans.

Fundamentally, like many other races, the Edal gained and maintained their power through the use of arms. The Edal soldier is legendary, being able to harness both Imperial discipline, advanced energy weaponry and Warpmancy. With their millennium old star fleets, they maintain and expand their power.

History

Earliest concept sketch of an Edal Warrior. This foot soldier would be stationed on a feudal Fringe World.

Grelaz, the Edal homeworld, is a harsh planet. Toxic plants are prevalent, the atmosphere is dense, the land is, by and large, infertile. Despite this, the Edal people persevered and, over a period lost in their history books, formed a civilisation. Like humanity, the Edal fought many wars. Unlike humanity, these wars were seldom condemned.

Warp crystals formed naturally on Grelaz, another source of danger, but also stimulating a natural proficiency in Warpmancy. Edal who mastered the art became rulers and warlords. Victory was determined by the greater Warpmancer, and their armies of Warp-tech armed troops.

Eventually, an Edal emperor united the disparate Edal empires. While wars were fought by warlords to secure crystal deposits, this emperor formed an alliance of warlords, subsequently betraying them in order to reign supreme.

With the planet united, the Edal war-scientists developed means to go off-world. With the Edal population growing, and not being kept in check by violence, the race needed new homes. With a natural affinity for pioneership, and a hardy physiology, the Edal spread across the stars. From this occupation of planets across the galaxy actually came the name ‘Edal’. Initially, the only name of their species was ‘al’ – meaning ‘all of us’. Edal was coined by the emperor, allegedly, and meant ‘Star People’.

The Star People formed the Star Horde, the emperor’s flagship fleet. Nothing could stop their expansion, as they conquered and purged alien species on many of the planets they discovered. Until they met the Ulyx.

The Ulyx were the calmer side of the Edallic passion. After a short stalemate, the Edal and Ulyx merged into the Imperial Council. With the Ulyx’s own grasp of Warpmancy, and their cold calculation, they struck a deal with the Edal, slowing down the occupation and solidifying the Imperia.

Now, the Edal still expands, but with their violence tempered by the logic of the Ulyx. The Imperial Council still grows, but with much more purpose and control than before. For now.


Have any questions about the Star People? Ask away in the comment section!