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Thor665
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PostSubject: Splintermind Episode 15   Fri Sep 04 2015, 23:22


Thor is left bereft of co-hosts, but thankfully is still joined by Squidmaster and Darkgreen Pirate, two 1st place prize winners of the Fiction competition on TheDarkCity.net as they discuss the Dark Eldar and how they are portrayed in Warhammer 40k fluff. The good and the bad are mentioned as well as some advice on writing the True Kin.


I also apologize (with shame) for my constant mispronunciation of 'coven' but...well, American Movie is one of my favorite films and it messes with your head after enough viewings.


Torturer's Tale - the quinessential Dark Eldar story, as penned by Gav Thorpe and preserved on TheDarkCity.net

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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Sat Sep 05 2015, 10:29

Really nice listening again. I didn't really follow much on the fiction competition this year, but you reminded me to definitely check the entries out.

Warrior Coven isn't something I have read but I have heard enough to figure out that someone would bring it up in this episode. But don't worry, if I do join in the fiction competition next year, it will definitely not be because you are handing it out as a prize. Likewise if I forget the whole thing it wasn't because I was afraid of what I would get if I won. The autograph is tempting, though....


I should write more because I like reading and often like writing too. I really get what you mean about "not knowing what's in between" the story. Getting sidetracked can happen, especially to me if I haven't planned out how I will write something.


On a side note, The Torturer's Tale seems indeed to be gone from any official GW-site (feel free to prove me wrong there if it is somewhere in the depths of the Black Library or something) but just googling brings up the thread in TDC as the first result, so huzzah! This site is actually preserving something for future generations of the true kin!
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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Sat Sep 05 2015, 20:56

Funny story: I read the write up before downloading this episode, and misread it, thinking it was listing Darkgreen Pirate as the other 1st place winner from this year (Reader's choice), and totally crapped my pants. I was going over the comp thread like, 'Did I get DQ'ed and no one tell me?!'
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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Mon Sep 07 2015, 06:54

I have to protest having the Dark Eldar referred to as the Kardshians of the 40K universe. This is why I need to come back for the next episode. Razz

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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Mon Sep 07 2015, 16:31

@Mngwa - you realize you are just setting yourself up for the jape of winning Warrior Coven, yeah?

@Jimsolo - Yeah, about that, we decided your story actually sucked and just wrote you out of the history books Wink

@ESE - it only hurts because it's true.

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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Mon Sep 07 2015, 18:27

Another great episode. I liked the reference to Phil Kelly's and Jes Goodwin's round table videos because I really felt Phil Kelly's passion when he described the Dark Eldar background and origins, in particular, that segment referring to the Haemonculus' ability to cheat death and resurrect a Dark Eldar and the sheer arrogance that they can cheat Slaanesh and death itself.

I also liked the evolution of the Haemonculus from the little lore we had in 3rd ed. A part of the lore I like now (something not mentioned in this episode) that the Haemonculus lairs are literal death traps of their own devising. Only members of that coven will know the rituals or mechanisms to navigate the lairs to a certain point until they have been granted the knowledge how to navigate the next part of the labyrinth.

In Bellathonis and the Shadow King, Bellathonis had to release a microorganism that would react with a chemical to emit a light to allow his altered sight to see the correct path through a portion of the lair because the coven were that paranoid and obsessed with secrecy. Without that knowledge and the altered sight to see the light emitted on that particular wavelength, you would either be lost or brutally killed by some trap you unwittingly stumble upon. Great stuff.
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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Mon Sep 07 2015, 19:26

It's always fun listening to you guys Smile

I'm very sorry though, and I hate to disagree with everyone -- again -- but 'The Torturer's Tale' is a dire piece of writing. It's E.L James bad. You'd be better off reading it as an example of what not to do.
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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Mon Sep 07 2015, 19:38

I'd never read Torturer's Tale before. I loved it! It's fic-history at it's finest, and 40k fiction at it's best--epic history from an unreliable narrator.

'Path of the Archon' though, is a different kettle of fish. I wish I'd read the first two and then just pretended the author died without finishing the trilogy. The core of Dark Eldar, as you guys discuss, is the petulant child, who wants what the cookie no matter the consequences. But it's tempered by the fact that the child in question is centuries old, and posessed of a skill and precision born from a level of focus human beings can't hope to comprehend, let alone match. And that second part didn't come through. They're all just running around solving their problems through brute force, and it really read more like the Imperium in Commorragh than an actual Dark Eldar story.

Someone mentioned RA Salvatore and his treatment of the dark elves, which is a good comparison for a number of reasons. First off, it was mentioned that drow society is impossible (and it is!). Salavatore intended that: the society only survives because an extremely powerful deity wills it to be so. The minute her power is withdrawn (like the War of the Spider Queen series) the entire civilization begins a lightning-fast plummet into extinction. It's an interesting comparison, because it makes you wonder if Slaanesh has more to do with the Dark Eldar than they'd like to admit. They are a race of cosmic vampires, after all, feeding her by proxy.

Speaking of War of the Spider Queen, that's the sort of in-depth machinations I'd like to see in the Dark Eldar. The entire arc of Gromph Baenre in that is just perfect, the quintessential story of someone who is possessed of super-human intellect. He's so manipulative he even schemes against himself! In the Path of X novels, Vect just comes off like a bossy toddler by comparison. Some of the Heresy authors have done well portraying the Primarchs as super-human in their mental capacity as well as the physical (although some have dropped the ball on that one), and I would have liked to see that applied to the True Kin.

Speaking of that, I hadn't thought about the fact that the Dark Eldar are the real Eldar until this podcast. The name, and really the prevalence of the fluff, leads you to believe the Craftworlders are the Eldar race, and the DE a splinter group that spawned into degeneracy. But when you stop to think about it, Thor's right: the denizens of Commorragh are the real representatives of what the Eldar race became, rather than their ascetic kin.
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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Mon Sep 07 2015, 23:07

@ ESE If you can honestly Say Kim K does NOT look like Kruellagh the Vile, I shall retract my statement lol!

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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Tue Sep 08 2015, 00:20

@Darkgreen Pirate wrote:
@ ESE If you can honestly Say Kim K does NOT look like Kruellagh the Vile, I shall retract my statement lol!


Your statement stands. I surrender.

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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Thu Sep 10 2015, 05:54

Did I miss it, or did 'Mistress Baeda's Gift' get mentioned during the show?
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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Thu Sep 10 2015, 06:27

@Jimsolo wrote:
Did I miss it, or did 'Mistress Baeda's Gift' get mentioned during the show?

It was, fairly early if I remember correctly.

Though I must admit that I haven't finished the episode yet. Embarassed

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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Fri Sep 11 2015, 14:52

@Barking Agatha wrote:
I'm very sorry though, and I hate to disagree with everyone -- again -- but 'The Torturer's Tale' is a dire piece of writing. It's E.L James bad. You'd be better off reading it as an example of what not to do.
It can't be E.L. James bad because Vect doesn't go 'oh!' constantly Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Fri Sep 11 2015, 22:14

@Thor665 wrote:
It can't be E.L. James bad because Vect doesn't go 'oh!' constantly Wink

I'm prone to exaggeration, so maybe it isn't quite that bad. It's pretty awful, though, and I'll demonstrate, but please feel free to ignore me or tell me to go to hell. Smile

Some of Gav Thorpe's literary offences:

'the anguished screams that the walls failed to muffle.' If we didn't know better, we would think that the walls are supposed to muffle the screams but the builders were just bad at soundproofing. It would be much more effective and scary to just write: 'the anguished screams coming through the walls'.

'"No questions!" the Haemonculus's translator barked, and the she-thing slashed a blade across Gideon's chest,'. Apart from 'she-thing' being bloody awful, he has already named her as a haemonculus, so why call her a 'she-thing'? You would only use that if you didn't know what she was: 'What is that?' you would ask, and the answer would be, 'I dunno, some kind of a she-thing.' Is 'she-thing' a subset of haemonculus? Is there a joke in Commoragh that starts, 'Three haemonculi walk into a pain bar, a she-thing, a he-thing, and a thing of indeterminate gender...' ?

'His hair was jet black, shaved...' What? '...save for a long scalp lock.' Okay, it's not the pratfall that it seems it's going to be at first, but it's still very bad form. First he has a head of jet black hair, then he's bald, and you wonder what happened to the hair, until you realise that -- aha! -- it was only a scalp lock from the beginning. Why take us through all of that, when it's so simple to write: 'his head was shaved save for a long scalp lock of jet black hair.'?

Then Gideon surprises us with the oddest question. 'Who are you?' he asks again, risking another paper cut on his chest from the she-thing. Why does he want to know? Presumably he is about to be horribly tortured, so why would it make a difference to him who tortures him, and why would he expect the answer to mean anything to him? Suppose the answer were, 'I'm Hector.' Gideon would then say, 'I don't know who that is.' 'Well,' Hector would reply, 'do you know who any of us are?' 'No,' Gideon would admit. 'Then why the hell are you even asking, you silly prey-thing?'

The real reason is that it's a cue. Thorpe needs him to ask the question so that Vect can introduce himself to the reader in an overly dramatic fashion, but it's a clumsy and obvious cue, because Gideon has no motive to ask the question. The only motive is Thorpe's.

Vect also has no good reason to answer, but answer he does, and in a way that would embarrass Doctor Doom. 'I am the bearer of titles, I am the vanquisher of worlds, I am the wearer of trousers, I am the dancer of tangos, I am the blah blah of the blah blah blah, I am the pirate king, and it is it is a glorious thing to be a pirate king, for I am Asdrubael Vect, and all the warriors of the Black Heart are mine to command.'

My goodness, that's a lot of information from a simple 'who are you?'. No wonder the she-thing said, 'No questions!'; once he gets going, Vect just can't stop.

Moving on, 'Gideon closed his eyes and tried to understand this news.' Apparently Gideon is a bit slow, and can't understand simple matters without closing his eyes. 'Vect was indeed the sole ruler of the Kabal of the Black Heart.' Indeed! It's a good thing he closed his eyes to process this, otherwise he might have said, 'Nah, I don't believe you. You must be the janitor,' perhaps hoping that Vect would say, 'Yeah, you got me. I guess that means we have to let you go.'

And then comes the absolute worst bit, because it's as if Thorpe suddenly realised that Gideon shouldn't know Vect from Joe Dark Eldar, but rather than go back and re-write the intro he just fills in the discrepancy with a pointless backstory about how Gideon was kept by another kabal before. We aren't told the name of that kabal, but it must have been the Kabal of Chatty Gossip, because he's heard rumours, so he does know who Vect is, see?

The whole thing is pointless and badly structured from the first 'who are you?', and its only purpose is to enable the dramatic effect of Vect introducing himself as 'the eater of cakes, the watcher of chat shows, the kicker of puppies,' and so on.

'"Why should I not?" the Lord replied, looking genuinely perplexed. "You are of no consequence.'

The issue with that is that when someone is of no consequence you don't bother telling them that they are of no consequence. You answer them like Humphrey Bogart did when Peter Lorre said, 'You despise me, don't you?' in the movie Casablanca: 'If I gave you any thought I probably would.' See the difference? Vect should have stopped at 'Why should I not?'

What is happening here is that Lord Exposition A. Vect is laying out the moral outlook of the dark eldar for the reader, but Thorpe does not trust us to work it out for ourselves from Vect's actions and demeanor, so he has to have him spell it out. It's the literary equivalent of those comic books in which the hero goes, 'With my mighty powers I lift up the heavy thing, allowing the trapped family to escape!' while you're thinking, 'It's a comic book, you doofus, we can see that!'

"As I said, you interest me, so I will indulge your curiosity,"'. 'Before I kill you, Mr. Bond, let me tell you a story about a little boy called Danny, and his educated cat...'

Forwarding to the end, here's a good one:

'"Soul? Soul! Soul. Soul…" Vect seemed to be trying the word out for size, repeating it in different accents and intonations'. 'Soooooul. Soul! So-so-so-SO-so-so-soul. Ssssoul. Right about now, funk soul brother!' Vect is silly.

"I-I don't understand…" Gideon stammered, eyes flicking wildly between the two Dark Eldar. "No?" Vect said mockingly. " It must be so terrible for you…" Nice line, but it makes no sense. What is it that Gideon doesn't understand? Vect has delivered his exposition as clearly as if they were the development notes for the dark eldar, probably because they are. There is nothing to understand, Gideon is just giving Vect a cue again, so that he can deliver that admittedly pretty good line.

'I hear the stomach cramps can last for days on end…' and 'not knowing the end of the tale will drive you mad, won't it? ' Apparently so, but one would think that, since Gideon is about to be flayed alive and dipped in battery acid, he would have more pressing things on his mind. Or maybe not, as all that Vect has done is feed him E. Coli and troll him with a shaggy dog story without an ending, so maybe all that Gideon has to look forward to is itching powder in his pants and looking through binoculars that leave rings around his eyes. For all his mwa-ha-ha-ing, Vect isn't nearly as scary as... the she-thing.

Besides, he pretty much did finish the story. He said, 'But then a thought occurred to him. Perhaps She Who Thirsts would drink others, as well as us.'

'And then?' Gideon asked. 'Please, please tell me, I must know! I don't care if you pour acid in my eyes, and glass under my fingernails, and slowly break all of my bones, but I cannot stand the torture of not knowing what happened then, because my priorities are insanely messed up! Please, I must know!'

'It turned out that yes, she would. Do I have to spell everything out? Geez, what are you, slow?'

Gideon closed his eyes and tried to understand this news.
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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Sat Sep 12 2015, 05:11

You should limber up before some of those stretches Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Sat Sep 12 2015, 08:04

By all means, correct me. I'm always glad to further my education.
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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Sat Sep 12 2015, 09:52

Lol. You just cheered up my morning Barking Agatha Very Happy There are some clangers in there for sure

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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Sat Sep 12 2015, 17:26

@Barking Agatha wrote:
By all means, correct me. I'm always glad to further my education.
Okay, I thought you were just trying to make a joke.
I'll PM you a rebuttal to each point. Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Tue Sep 22 2015, 21:04

Wonderful episode.

But dammit, stop tempting me to write fiction. I have too many ideas and unfinished projects starving for time and attention orbiting around me as it is.

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PostSubject: Re: Splintermind Episode 15   Wed Sep 23 2015, 03:46

Just write short fiction Wink

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