THE WFRP STORY XVIII: BALANCING ACT

This post continues my history of WFRP1, which started here.

At the same time as the concept of Chaos began to emerge in Warhammer, ideas also began to form of the opposing force of Law. As ever, less attention was dedicated to the gods and followers of Law, but some important elements can be clearly discerned.

The Warrior Knights of Law are human born [sic] adventurers who have been invited to serve the Lawful gods. Only the most successful and humanitarian of adventurers can owe allegiance to the Gods of Law – for the Gods of Law demand strict obedience to their moral and social codes. In return the servants of law receive certain gifts – including armour and weapons – but the chief attribute granted the Warrior Knight of Law is his sense of moral superiority.

– ‘The Mausoleum of Ifram’ (August 1983)

The Knights of Law are clearly modelled on crusading Christian knights, albeit with a strong dose of absurd parody.

The Mausoleum contains the Tomb of the Lawful Saint Ifram … carved with images of the life of Ifram – the Miracle of the Flying Debt Collector, the Journey across the Aywon out of the land of Darnsarf and, of course, the Parable of the Bishop and the Actress.*

ibid

The knights also seem to be perceived as the Lawful counterparts of Chaos Warriors. It is interesting to see that the knights have a similar quid pro quo relationship with their gods. The knights receive divine gifts in return for their service.

The later Knights of Origo seem to expand on the concept. They are not described as Lawful, but there enough similarities to suggest they are an evolution of the earlier Knights of Law.

The gods that the knights serve are not named or described in the sources from this period. It does appear that there was some development of the gods of Law, but it does not seem to have proceeded far:

I’m fairly certain that the very first piece of art that was done for Realm of Chaos was the group of illustrations of the four gods on page 14 [of Slaves to Darkness]. I believe that I talked to John Blanche about the four gods, and that the artwork was completed quite some time before any other work was done on Realm of Chaos…. On the same day I think that I also talked to John about illustrations of four Gods of Law. It’s possible that sketches were done: if so, I have no memory of what they looked like. The Gods of Law were going to be even more ferocious than the Gods of Chaos.

– Bryan Ansell, Realm of Chaos 80s

The ‘Heroic Adventurers’ (August 1983) insert does mention a god of justice and purity called Lumis. He is not described as a god of Law, but his sphere of influence perhaps signals that he was intended as one (similar to Michael Moorcock’s Donblas).

It is possible that the name Lumis later evolved into Alluminas (one of the Law gods described in WFRP1). Both names seem to derive from the Latin lumen. The characters of Lumis and Alluminas differ, but this does not preclude their names being cognate. A similar transition took place from Slaneesh, god of plunder, to the Chaos god Slaanesh.

The writings of this period contain one further element in the dualism of Law and Chaos:

… the Elder Gods, the Gods whose cosmic design dictates the cosmic balance between chaos and law.

– ‘The Quest for Chaos’ (August 1983)

These deities are clearly analogous to Moorcock’s Cosmic Balance. This is, I believe, their only mention. They would not appear in subsequent material.

FOOTNOTE

* The Aywon is a pun on the River Avon in the Midlands of England, where Citadel was based. “Down south” is a common expression used to refer to southern England by those in the northern and central parts of the country. It is often styled “darn sarf” in a mock southern English accent. (“Up north” and “oop north” are equivalents used in southern England.)

“As the actress said to the bishop” is a British phrase to signal a double entendre.

The next post will cover the geography of the early Warhammer world.

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7 thoughts on “THE WFRP STORY XVIII: BALANCING ACT

  1. Gods of Law have always been less interesting than gods of Chaos – even Moorcock couldn’t pull it off. When the WFRP ms came down to me, it had Alluminas who is very abstract. I added Arianka from the Kaleb Daark comic (the copyright issues that led to the removal of Malal from Warhammer canon had not yet reared their heads), and I made up Solkan as a more relatable Law god and patron of Chaos hunters. But I can’t say they were ever as satisfying as the four Ruinous Powers, and they didn’t last.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great post. Even though I wasnt interested in the concept of Law when I discovered Warhammer, I do like it in a way. If there is Chaos there must be something that opposes it. I even think that the new much hated Sormcast Eternals would make good models for Champions of Law!

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    2. I don’t know whether they can be made as interesting as the gods of Chaos, but I think there is a lot more mileage in the forces of Law. Your own creation Solkan is interesting. He works in terms of his Solomon Kane roots. But I think he can also be seen as a brutal, relentless god of retribution, like the Erinyes of Greek myth. That also opens up all sorts of tragic plots.

      Another deity of Law could represent fascist tyranny, which is at least as terrifying as the forces of Chaos. I did actually once come up with a rewrite of Something Rotten in Kislev, which made the Ancient Allies gods of Law, and replaced the undead with brainwashed living automata. It had a sort of Midwich Cuckoos feel.

      As you say, though, the gods of Law are long gone from Warhammer canon.

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  2. Solkan works well within the RPG because single-minded vengeance is an easy plot device. Humans attaching racial purity to this makes sense if you think of mutation (and just not being human) as a direct insult to humanity that needs a firm response, preferably involving fire. I even incorporated him into my Fimir piece as a god they’re actively involved with… and in passing created a rather nifty Solkanic daemon for him.

    Alluminas and Arianka have never been successful because they don’t really stand for anything. They don’t appear to be a product of any kind of emotion or belief, or mirror any human concerns. Alluminas could work as a sun god for early human tribes or the modern folk of Araby or the Southlands, but for the Old World he needs some work.

    My addition to Solkan would be a god of permanency to contrast and compete with Tzeentch. Within the Old World, this is the god who likes things exactly as they are thank-you very much. The one who likes the feudal structure, who doesn’t want a new temple to a strange god being built in their backyard and who doesn’t think the new balladeers are as good as the old ones. Born from the fear and resentment of change that is so intense in so many, a god like this and those who worship it are ripe for satire, plot and character.

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  3. Gods of Law are somehow a paradox.
    The whole concept of Law (rationalism, order, structure, and justice) is to me more typical of monotheistic religions or even atheistic philosophies.
    This could explain the difficulty of further developing the gods of Law and make them interesting.

    Otherwise I should notice that the later “God Emperor of Mankind” suits well your idea of a deity of Law representing fascist tyranny.
    As the “oriental themed” Tau alien race “Greater Good” could show what I mean with Law atheism.

    I would say the gods of Law are not completly gone from the Warhammer (40k) canon.

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