Whither Thaddeus Velk?




First, a preamble: last year, as regular readers of the blog will be aware, I was invited to attend the first of the Inqvitational events that Molotov was holding at WHW. I had prepared to attend to simply spectate and report on the events as they unfurled throughout the day, meet some people I had spoken to online, and just have a bit of a day out.,When I arrived, though, ambling in mid-morning having had a leisurely stroll along the canals of Nottingham, I was given the task of taking charge of Inquisitor Thaddeus Velk, a conversion that Molotov had acquired from Golden Daemon supremo Jakob Nielsen. 

Initially I was slightly discombobulated, I can be a bit socially awkward at the best of times, especially when meeting large groups of people for the first time, and here I was, casually bumbling into the chaos of (what I assumed to be) a long-running campaign, and taking custody of one of the main protagonists. I'd not played Inquisitor in a decade or so, so I was nervy and unsure of the rules. Aside from this, Jakob's painting and conversion were masterful and I was nervous to even pick Velk up. 

Fortunately I couldn't have asked to meet a nicer group of people, who were all friendly and affable. I took it as a sign that I'd had a hand in christening Velk on Jakob's miniTEXTures blog: suggesting the name Thaddeus early in his inception. It seemed appropriate that I'd have some kind of paternalistic hand in Velk's destiny. 

However, being unsure of the character that Jakob had envisaged for the Inquisitor, throughout the day, I had tried to play him as obliquely as possible, trying to veer away from dialogue-based, cerebral games, instead allowing the circumstances to dictate his development - aiming for a reactive (as opposed to active) gameplay. The joy of a narrative skirmish game like Necromunda or Inquisitor is that characters often develop through the events that characters find themselves in, and the player's immediate reactions to events unfolding. There's no real space for protracted strategy as several PCs act and react to one another within an independent space - especially when the game is being overseen by the hand-of-God-Emperor of the GM, intent on keeping the pressure on and the games pacey. 

Speaking of whom: during the course of the afternoon, Molotov would potter over to the games I was undertaking with Velk, and throw in asides, clues, scraps of information about Velk's background and the unfolding narrative that the Conclave found themselves within: some things he'd already had in mind, some scraps he'd recalled from Jakob's correspondence and some other bits of information he'd discovered that day from speaking to other protagonists, most notably Andy Hoare, who had been mulling over some writings that he'd recently been undertaking for FFG's 40k RPG series. 

Slowly, Velk began to acquire snippets of history and personality like ghostly appendages and I could feel his character blooming in my head - coloured not least by the opinions of him from some of the other Conclave members who had taken an immediate dislike to his self-preserving nature. 

With the day over, I returned home and began to try to glean some more information from Jakob (and secondarily Molotov and Andy Hoare) on the position and character of Velk as I began to write-up my reports from the day's gaming. It transpired that there was only the most tentative sketch of character, Jakob having mused on the mysterious events of Velk's past - in particular his former mentor - much of which remains appropriately undivulged to me. 

In effect this gave me a greater confidence to begin to impart some of my own narrative on to Velk's operations, and when I was asked to play the Inquisitor again at the Requiem meeting I leapt at the chance. Once again, the events leading up to the Requiem, as defined by other Inquisitor's narratives, and the subsequent storming of the ship - even down to the accidental lay-out of WHW's Zone Mortalis corridors - allowed me to take Velk and mould him into the Inquisitor that I relayed in the three part narrative I posted in November, 

Although, what now? Whither Thaddeus Velk?

On the one hand, part of me greatly wishes to assume him as my own, to continue to develop this man and his inner workings, especially given that I know so little of the trials of his past: one which has long fought to mentally block. In effect Jakob has become Velk's Master, hidden and mysterious, and I have become Velk, Janus-faced, simultaneously trying to inwardly scrabble round for snippets and clues in his background, digital fragments of his former life, whilst outwardly dealing with the collapse of the Conclave, the incursions of the Great Enemy, and the internecine warfare of the various factions of the sector. 

That said, a small part of me also wishes to now pass custody of Velk on to someone else: effectively using him as a game of Consequences, each new player taking the character and building upon the state that they find him in. Tracking the development of a character through several different gamers, each recording his progress online has a kind of appeal, particularly as we find him in a position where a number of options are now available to him: effectively, Velk is dead, no-one saw the Inquisitor depart the Sealed Fate alive, and his refuge on Coromondel is his true sanctuary, away from prying eyes. Effectively the Conclave is dead, the other Inquisitors protecting Madine's corpse could never have survived such an all-out assault from Renegades and fallen Astartes. 

However, this is Inquisitor, and nothing is ever as it first seems. 

11 comments:

  1. An intriguing post... sounds like something is afoot...

    I love velk as much as Vendrake loathes him.. his duplicitous nature is perfect for inquisitor .. he has become the seminal cloak and dagger bad guy on surface of it , but really things seem much more complex and less 2 dimensional every time he has an outing. Is he the victim or the villain. ? only time will tell.

    If other folks do portray him I think this would only add to his complex personality. and his unknown motives .. like a how a great story character becomes entwindled and enriched by the various actors who portray them on film.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The notion of him as this collaborative figure we pass to newer players joining the events with Velk's background forming as we go is quite fun. We probably do in that case want to start looking at a retinue for him. PDH and I have discussed building a collaborative retinue for Falstaff as part of the strand we're following so I definitely like the idea and one of the joys of the community is that it has been about the collaboration on modelling, gaming, and storytelling.

    As for Velk himself as his first opponent I do look forward to him developing schemes that start to come to fruition if only so it forces him out of the shadows once in a while. I approve of the photo.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Afternoon gents - you find me writing this to you from Bugman's Bar :)

    If I'm completely honest, I'm kind of loathe to give him up as I love the character he's become in my head, although having admitted that out loud, I have to remember that he's not actually mine, I've just been fortunate enough to have been allowed to use him in a few games (hence my initial thoughts about passing him on to someone else).

    It's an odd relationship: he's effectively already the character of three separate people, scattered throughout the world, each with their own ideas as to his nature and motive. I've not really collaborated (per se) with either Jakob or Molotov on his development, having instead just gone ahead and developed him myself to my own ideas. It's been for this reason, though, that I've developed him obliquely, alluding to action and motive rather than pointing out a definite 'this is who and why Velk is'.

    Falstaff is Velk's mentor, right?

    I mention all this today, not least as I was heading towards Nottingham this morning with the events of previous meetings in mind, but also as I think the time might be ripe to push things forwards so that plans can start being acted upon before the 2013 meeting in the summer. I'll be back in WHW in February, and might have the opportunity to use Velk then against several other Inquisitors (I know Helsmark is looking for revenge). However, it'd be interesting to play out some of the fall-out from the sacking of the sealed Fate, without just assuming that everyone knows that everyone else is alive.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well everyone else who got off the Sealed Fate was on the same ship, so it's really just Velk who is in the other position. :)

    Falstaff is the Inquisitor who ran the election and was Mandred's right hand. We suspect he knows a lot more about the assassination.

    I'm all in favour of us figuring some of the narrative to play out at the next event ahead of time. It helps us build things for a start.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh yes, of course! I'd not thought about that.

    Ah ok - I was confusing him for Molotov's Sins of the Master narrative.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think it's Zuul and Thracis that will be taking the lead for that narrative.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Velk's master, Inquisitor Felsh, a traitor known for conspireing with xenos has been lost in the History. The loss of his master had great impact on Velk forming a sinister, but deep down very black/white logic that influences his decision-making. Velk has recently been spoken of as a manipulative character interpreting decorum to suit his own goals.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Very interesting thoughts, Tim - I think Velk has indeed grown and shaped himself in a very organic way which is very fitting.

    ReplyDelete
  9. With that, Mol and JRN, where now for him?

    ReplyDelete
  10. I had actually hoped to join you for the Feb. event, but that is not going to happen unfortunately. As for Thaddeus I rather like the idea that where I created the visual expression and look of Velk it was you and the gaming as it happened in 2012 that has really given him life. So I would certainly trust both you and Mol to add more to the History.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh. A shame you couldn't join us on board the Ygg. Are you intending to join us in June?

      Ok, that's exciting. In that case I'll speak to Mol.

      Delete