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Rough Cuts-

October 10, 2013
 
So recently a post of mine went up on the Shell Case.
 
Its a weird post for a wargaming site and got me called ‘edgy’ which, for anyone who knows me, is a hilarious statement. Nevertheless, I’m very thankful to the editor of the site, Phil, for having trust in both me as a writer and the audience hes cultivated to be accepting of it.
 
So as a change to things and to allow you to get a sort of ‘behind the scenes’ look into my brain for comparison, I though I would let you have a look at an early draft of the article, pre a lot of work I would do on it later and the final edit was done by Phil so it matches the editorial standards of his site. Most of the humour and levity not in this draft version can be put down to Phil as hes better at sort of thing than me.
 
In fact, the final article is much better from a professional standpoint, far less prone to tangents and asides like my writing is when not reigned in. As it was quite a personal topic for me though, I figured it was worth putting up an alternative version (sans pictures so GW don’t sue me into oblivion) to the finished piece to show just how much work is done between first draft and final and why it takes me so bloody long to write anything! Hope you enjoy.
 

Chaos and Addiction

Title pic

Now this isn’t going to be a happy topic to talk about, but its something that needs to be said. I got the demons codex recently, and whilst I toy with writing a review for it (its coming, trust me) its given me time to think back on Chaos. From the time of learning of the existence of Chaos in the 40k and WFB settings, to me, its been by far the most fascinating concept of the two universes and as as far as I’m concerned, its the best thing Games Workshop have ever come up with. It’s close to perfection as a concept. To poorly mangle a famous saying, if Games Workshop hadn’t invented Chaos, someone would have had to invent it anyway. The concept of Chaos is so intrinsic to both settings, so key to how they work, that without them I truly believe that GW would not have half the fan base it does now.

But what makes the concept of the Chaos Gods so appealing? Beyond simple power fantasies and wish fulfilment that is? I believe its that there is a complexity to them. Admittedly theres always been a section of the fandom that like to pigeonhole each of the gods into something simple like Khorne=close combat, Nurgle= disease etc etc and I can understand why. Since 3rd edition 40k, GW have always tried to keep things simple in the main army books. Its only been the introduction of books like the Liber Chaotica (who’s author I’ve had the pleasure of talking to multiple times) in recent years and the original Realms of Chaos books that came close to truly describing the eldritch terror of the Chaos Gods.
More than that I think what makes people identify with them so much is because of how, deep down, we recognise how easy it would be to become a follower of them. Because to truly understand nature of chaos, you have to understand that all the gods are intrinsically linked to one underlying theme. Addiction.

Pic- nurgle deamon
“insert joke about quitting smoking here”

Now am I saying that all addicts are potential chaos worshipers? Or that to truly understand the nature of them you have to be an addict yourself? Of course not. For a start, thats completely denigrates anyone involved in the argument and is a disingenuous one at best, that undercuts the real world horror of addiction. Its just acknowledging that to me at least, that the two groups share some similarities and that it may be why a lot of people have trouble grasping that nature of Chaos. As a society, unless we have gone through or know people in such situations, we have a real hard time grasping the concepts like addiction and depression because there has been a lot of false information given over over the years. The afflictions are aren’t ‘one size fits all’ topics either.

From a personal perspective I have to explain, I’ve been an addict. I still am in a way, because being an addict is not something you just ‘give up’. You just replace it with something else*. But before all that, I remember reading the origin of Haargroth the Blooded One was when the idea of Chaos first properly ‘clicked’ with me. The story of a young man abused by the society he finds himself in who finally snaps and gains fulfillment and acceptance in mindless anger, it really struck a chord with a younger me. I realised how in reality he wasn’t much different from how I felt at that age and just how seductive that could be to a person who had had no power before. Thats what Chaos is at its core. Its a way of seeking refuge from a world you can’t quite gel with, be it elevating yourself above it via Tzeench or Nurgle, or succumbing to always chasing a high via Khorne or Slannesh. But what all their followers have in common is obsession. Thats the key driving point of addiction.

Ok, I can see I’ve already lost a lot of you, perhaps because theres no frame of reference. So lets bring up an easier point without me having to launch into a aside thats several thousand words long. Did you ever watch the film ‘Get him to the Greek’ a few years ago? Film starred Russel Brand as a washed up rockstar and Jonah Hill before he blew up and became the star he is today. Its ok, if not brilliant. But something Brand (and if anyone has experince of being and addict its him) said struck a chord with me:

“You know I used to be sober. When I was sober I was worried about: ‘Aw, is this the twilight of my career?’ ‘Is the mother of my child a cruel, evil, brilliant, savant, idiot genius?’ ‘Am I bringing up my kid the right way?’ Now, I just worry about drugs. Your life’s to-do list must be a baffling document. You’re worried about so many things, Aaron. You’re worried about: “Will we get to the show?” “Will I perform well?” “Will you get the credit that you deserve?” Mine has on it but one word. Do you know what that word is?”

Now, go and approach everything you have ever thought about Chaos and its worshipers from that perspective. See how that changes everything?

To be a worshiper of Chaos is to start from a point where every addict starts. Its one where you, interested, dip your toes in and get a taste for something thats. Then, thinking you have a handle upon it you slowly take more and more until the effect generated compared for the side effects is no longer an equal balance. Until thats all you can think about. Sure, releasing that urge can give you a few hours or days of clarity, but it won’t be long before you need to do it again. Thats what makes the World Eaters bloodthirsty maniacs, or the Emperors Children chasers of excess in any form. Their addiction has rewired their entire brain and body chemistry until they can only experience the world properly via an ever increasing excess. Of course they can still rationalise. Of course they can still operate as functional beings. But to those Chaos worshipers who are so far down the path as to be almost unreachable, the world is a grey to them unless they are experiencing that high.

I mean sure, real world addictions don’t end up with you growing an extra arm or becoming a writhing ball of mutation/a Deamon Prince. But the path taken to that end is very similar.

Its a reminder that we aren’t so far removed from desperation and just how great fiction of any sort can be at exploring the parts of humanity that we would rather not dwell on. Its what makes the Chaos Gods so scary to me, because I know, that if the Chaos Gods existed, we wouldn’t have a chance in hell. I would have already joined them. I think you, dear reader, probably would have too.
Forget super powered marines of death. Forget hell deamons that want to feat on your soul. The Chaos Gods would have most of our souls within seconds and it would have been something we would have willingly offered. Now THATS terrifying.

*I could talk for thousands of words about this, but its not the time or place**. As it is though I’m so far left field from most normal topics covering wargaming that I don’t want to invite even more Editorial wrath 😛
**But seriously, fuck people like Phillip K Dick who said only weak people got addicted to things. Ever wonder why he was so prolific after he gave up amphetamines? Now you know.
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