Sunday, January 19, 2014

Blog Shout Out - Realm of Chaos 80s and Some 'Small But Vicious Dog' Rpg Action

 Find The Blog Right Over

This isn't a blog post about rpg stuff or maybe it is actually. This post is about a new blog that speaks about perhaps one of the best periods in Games Workshop's history. The blog was only recently introduced to me this afternoon. The blog is more then merely a Warhammer Realms of Chaos and Slaves to Darkness rehash. You get new interviews, figure tips, overviews, and a metric ton of material there. Its good stuff by fans for fans with folks like Mick Leach, and the whole Eastern Front Crew. 

 I go a long, long, way back with this material and its influence upon me is deep and goes into parts of my gaming brain that touches OD&D, AD&D, the Stormbringer rpg, and then into Warhammer Rpg. To day that I'm glad to another blog covering the Slaves To Darkness and the Lost & the Damned material is an understatement. 

Realms of Chaos And Slaves To Darkness 

I'm not going to tell you about the time that I drove a hundred miles to grab a copy of this book or that I still consider it one of the most interesting rpg books that I own.

Wiki pretty much sums it up: 

It consists of the 1988 book Slaves to Darkness and the 1990 follow-up The Lost and the Damned. Each of the two volumes describe the background and associated rules for a pair of antagonistic Chaos gods but each also had material that was germane to Chaos in general in the game settings. Both were written by Rick PriestleyBryan AnsellMike Brunton and Simon Forrest although many more people contributed material, both writings and illustrations. The cover art of Slaves to Darkness was painted by John Sibbick and The Lost and the Damned by Les Edwards. The process in sketching and designing the cover for The Lost and the Damned was investigated within the volume. This was not the case for Slaves to Darkness.
Slaves to Darkness features extensive descriptions of the gods Khorne and Slaanesh, complete with a pantheon of their Daemons and rules for including these in tabletop battles as demonic armies.
It also features rules on the creation of Chaos Champions and their warbands, Daemon weapons, demonic possession and the Horus Heresy of WH40K. To give flavour for the background and attributes of followers of Chaos it contained material such as a list of over 120 "Chaos Attributes" - mutations that the followers of Chaos were often afflicted by. This included some mutations that were advantageous, such as those that made the mutant extra strong or taller, and those that confer a disadvantage, such as ones that made the mutant small, weak or stupid. Other mutations were purely cosmetic, such as giving the mutant brightly coloured skin or eyes on stalks, whilst some mutations were clearly comical, such as one that gave the mutant a silly walk (possibly inspired by the Monty Python sketch The Ministry of Silly Walks) and even a mutation that bestowed the "gift" of uncontrollable flatulence.
It introduced the Imperium's Daemonhunters of the Ordo Malleus and their associated Space Marine chapter - the Grey Knights.
The volume is also notable for having provided the first complete and coherent narrative of the Horus Heresy, an event which, albeit mentioned as the background justification of the internecine battles featured in the 1/300 scale boxed wargames Adeptus Titanicus and Space Marine, lacked a proper explanation in the WH40K milieu at large.
The Horus Heresy firmly locked the concept of chaos and demon influence in the SF universe of WH40K for good, establishing, as a consequence, that the "Realm of Chaos" was actually the Warpspace that intergalactic farers had to traverse in order to defeat the relativistic distances involved in space voyage.
The link between the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 worlds is explicitly stated in the first pages of the book.
The Lost and the Damned covers the background material and Daemons for the other two major Chaos gods Tzeentch and Nurgle. In addition, it contains rules that allow players and game masters to create their own gods and appropriate Daemons. The additional section introduced important elements for Warhammer 40,000, giving background on the early life of The Emperor as well as rules for the Sensei, immortal children the Emperor fathered during his thousands of years of life before he ascended the Golden Throne, who are champions of the cause of "good". The Sensei have since been written out of the Warhammer 40,000 background, although an explanation for their extermination was given as an Easter egg of sorts in the third edition of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook.
Both volumes also have army lists for Chaos armies and painting guides for miniature figures. They also introduce the idea of daemonic battles, which consist of armies formed primarily from daemons and other immortal followers of Chaos and fought within the realms of Chaos itself.
Each was heavily illustrated and interspersed with many short stories related to Chaos. The Lost and the Damned featured the tale of the Horus Heresy's climax and an illustration of the Emperor's climactic battle with Horus. [1]
The two books contained a significant amount of violence and sex (although the latter was implied rather than explicit), particularlySlaves to Darkness, which featured Khorne, the god of violence and killing, and Slaanesh, god of pleasure and sensation. Though in the UK Slaves to Darkness carried the note "suggested for mature readers" on its cover, The Lost and the Damned did not. Labelling it as "mature content" was a guide for vendors as sales to minors was not legally restricted.
Slaves to Darkness features grotesque illustrations by artists such as Ian MillerAdrian SmithJohn BlancheTony Ackland and Tony Hough. As the subject matter of the book focused on the gods of violence and pleasure, the illustrations were likewise violent or perverse. The Lost and the Damned featured much more toned down artwork, although some was reused from Slaves to Darkness.
Games Workshop stopped publishing the books within a few years. It has been suggested that this was because, in the mid-1990s, Games Workshop began to try to appeal to younger gamers (hence diluting the mature content), rather than only to adults, and the explicit violence of the Realm of Chaos books was seemingly inappropriate for the younger market. Another suggestion is a more prosaic explanation: the Warhammer Fantasy game was revised and re-released in its fourth edition in 1992, an edition which rendered the rules in all the third edition supplements, including Realm of Chaos, obsolete. Warhammer 40,000 was revised along similar lines in 1993. The books are consequently quite rare, with The Lost and the Damned being much the rarer of the two. The reason for this is that a copy of Slaves to Darkness was required to use much of the material in The Lost and the Damned, whereas the former book could be used on its own, and was also released two years earlier than its companion volume. Hence Slaves to Darkness was reprinted twice after its initial release whereas The Lost and the Damned received only a single print run. For more extended and deeper reference lore material on the nature of the Hordes of Chaos, the Realm of Chaos books have been replaced by the newer volume The Liber Chaotica, published by Black Library Publishing.

I own both of these books and I still use them to this day for old school gaming. I know that more then a couple of you do as well. I was reading a bit of Chris Hogan's Small and Vicious Dog rpg today.
What is Chris Hogan's Small but Vicious Dog rpg?

Get It right Over HERE In the side bar along with all the suppliments
Well in the author's words : 
Small But Vicious Dog is a mashup of Moldvay/Cook B/X D&D and WFRP 1e.
From the Introduction:

"Welcome to a fantasy world where the men are Baldrick, the dwarves are punk, and the dogs are small but vicious. Welcome to a world of bawds, grave robbers, excisemen and witch hunters; a place where “Blather”, “Flee!” and “Mime” are legitimate skill choices; and where all material on the insidious threat of Chaos is officially interchangeable between settings.
Welcome (back) to the Grim World of Perilous Adventure.
Whisper it (that fanboys may not hear and descend a squealing), but for all the charm of its skewed familiar 16th century milieu and the lurking horror of Chaos, Warhammer Fantasy Role Play was little more than a modcop of classic Dungeons & Dragons. Yes, our beloved WFRP was yet another ‘fix D&D’ fantasy heartbreaker, albeit one which had the clout of the biggest name in British gaming behind it. Whole chunks of the system were lightly disguised D&D mechanics adapted to a roll under d% system1, and many setting

elements not gleefully ripped off from Tolkien, Leiber or Moorcock were already established D&D tropes by the time WFRP was published.
But that's ok. Indeed, that's part of why all right thinking people – Brits, Italians and Poles especially – love WFRP. To paraphrase a better man than I: we took an American invention, soaked it in a witches' brew of Bosch, Durer and Doré, Mervyn Peake and Tom Sharpe, Blackadder, The Young Ones, pints of bitter, cheap weed, Iron Maiden and The Damned, and then we played the hell out of it."
Now personally I think that the author did a hell of a good job with the material. Its concise, quick, and brings the GW flavor home in a compact as well as vicious form. 

Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to the 'Traveling Man' to throw some dice with some mates and then for a pint. 


  1. Absolutely love these works, I've used the mutation lists to spice up standard monsters - what do you do when the goblin's head is a flaming skull? And used them as a source of inspiration for my recent 236 Mutations post.

  2. Me too Rod, these works were seminal to my rpging habit, even today I still use these lists as well today.
    "what do you do when the goblin's head is a flaming skull?"
    Run like hell and don't look back my friend!
    I've got plans for that 236 post. Just you wait. All my best and cheers!

  3. I too owned both of these books, though I never used them for gaming. I simply wanted them for the artwork and background fluff. I don't believe there's ever been game books done quite like these two (and the original WH40K Rogue Trader).

    236 mutations is awesome, by the way. Bookmarked that. There's also the Metemorphica, though it is system neutral.

    I never saw WHFRP 1e as based on B/X. It used percentile dice, had a completely different (and awesome) profession system, heavily invested in skills and used a damage mitigation system instead of something like AC. About the only thing similar to old school D&D was the use of 1d6 for all damage. It shared many of the fantasy tropes of D&D, but by then those fantasy tropes were well established in just about everything. Still, it's an amazing game.


  4. ED - I was over in the UK during the heady days of Games Workshop's 'golden period' and there wasn't anything like these books before or since really. The material was/is mind blowing in its presentation. There's always been two approaches I've had for my gaming, Dave Hargrave's California Arduin OD&D/AD&D approach. 'Power attracts power' ethos and gonzo is entertaining and interesting. The other is the grim dark approach of U.K. based gaming. Amazingly these two seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. This approach is crystallized in these two books for me.

    236 mutations is awesome and its getting used tonight in a post apocalyptic/Gothic fantasy extravaganza!

    I always have loved WHFRP for all of the above but 'Small but Vicious Dog' really boils down the essence I love into one small as well as easy to use package. Since 2009 its been one of those games I really badly want to run. My Gamer HD/AD has been very strong lately. The "Oh Look Shiny" factor has been really terrible lately.
    More to come Ed and cheers!

  5. A roommate of mine had those books. They're fantastic! I've always wanted to get my own copies, but they go for serious coin.

    I keep hoping someday to see them on DrivethruRPG.

  6. I think they're well worth it but if you can find the 'Tome of Corruption' for the last edition of Warhammer much of the fluff has been updated. The problem is that its doesn't have the charm of the Realms of Chaos material.I love them because of both the 40K material and the Warhammer fantasy role play cross over. It was great back in the day to simply take my Chaos army and add a few chaos marines then play! The thing I really love is the demon and cultists aspects. These books allow you to design so much and quick. I love the artwork and such as well. Someday perhaps Fractal, perhaps. Thanks for the comments.


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