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.