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Xisor
19-03-2008, 15:19
Hey folks,

I've been perusing the BL forums recently, and it was mentioned that one of the BLs authors (Nick Kyme)is preparing a Salamanders based story that will hopefully enter into the upcoming Heroes of the Space Marines anthology.

Now, on Nick's blog Nick wrote the following which I found very interesting.

World building within a framework
I was chatting to Rick Priestley and Mat Ward today about the Salamanders Chapter of Space Marines (for those not in the know, I'm going to be writing a Salamanders story for an upcoming 40K anthology). Through two separate, but both extremely illuminating, conversations I gleaned a lot of insight into these diabolic warriors. But it also got me to thinking about the importance of world building.

Digressing slightly, I'm a firm believer in the M.I.C.E method of qualifying types of stories. It's something I've touched on in earlier posts, but M.I.C.E essentially stands for: Milieu, Idea, Character, Event. You can find more details about the so-called 'Mice Quotient' in Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card (a book, incidentally that I recommend as being particularly interesting and thought provoking on these two subjects with regards writing).

Pertinent here is Milieu, which is basically world building, and the the staple of any fantasy or science fiction story of this ilk. A good example is The Lord of the Rings, in which Middle-Earth is described in exacting and exhaustive detail by J.R.R Tolkien. In cinematic terms, Star Wars partly falls into this category, too (albeit in its space opera/western format).

World building should be a long and comprehensive process, the many details of which might never come to fruition or see the page as part of the narrative. It is texture, it is culture, it is language and sense and feeling. All that good stuff that promotes an absorbing and immersive experience. While a blank canvass is the ideal place for a spot of biblical creation, you're not precluded from such god-like ambition when it comes to writing within existing worlds. I'm talking about the Warhammer 40,000 universe here and all the untapped, unexplored corners thereof.

The beauty of world building within a framework is that you're essentially adding layers of texture to what is already there. The idea is to enrich and complement, not overwrite and trammel. Take the Salamanders Chapter for instance. There's not a great deal known about them - not really. This is where the intelligent author can set to work, adding flesh, working with the first principles - enhancing, not undermining. As a result of said conversations with Rick and Mat, I've been set to thinking about world building within a framework. Not carving out my own little part of the galaxy (not yet, at least) - I'll leave that to better men than I - but rather taking something that exists, fleshing it out and making it my own.

For instance, I didn't know that the Salamanders have got jet-black skin (not just dark - it's actually black) with 'burning red eyes'. Talk about slightly daemonic - and these are the good guys! Their home world of Nocturne is constantly ravaged by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions during a period known as The Time of Trial (a hellish environ if ever I heard one) and they have a resistance to heat and fire. In fact, fire and it's ritualistic connotations are somewhat at the heart of the Chapter, as is their self-reliance and the forging of their own weapons (their primarch, Vulkan, was a smith). I found these revelations fascinating and as a result I started envisaging what Nocturne might be like, the relationship of the seven settlements there from which the Space Marines draw their aspirants into their seven companies. Their fortress monastery is on the neighbouring moon of Prometheus and the Promethean cult is also central to the natives' belief system. Immediately my mind has become awash with vaguely satanic cities both above and below the earth, of gates of fire, slumbering fire drakes and the rituals of these diabolic warriors. World building - that's what I'm talking about. A little microcosm of the Warhammer 40,000 universe with the Salamanders at its heart. It's powerful stuff this world building. And it helps inform plot and characters, too - it's a reciprocal relationship, I think.

Taking pains to really think about the 'world' your characters inhabit, its culture, its language, the general milieu and mores of its peoples is a worthwhile process. Even if you don't use everything you come up with, and there are notebooks rammed with material that will never be read, it means what you do write will have much better dimension and texture, a richness that will, hopefully, come through organically as it's written by someone who just knows.

It's the penultimate chapter that likely is important to anyone who cares. According to Nick, and thus from his conversations with Ward and Priestly, the Salamanders have jet black skin with 'burning red eyes'.

Indeed, I replied later to his blog and he goes on to clarify that this really is mutation of the Salamanders geneseed, their melannin-changing-organ doesn't work the way it should, it seems to tie directly to this 'demonic visage'-esque look. Quite interesting, I thought.

As he says: "And these are the good guys!"

:D

I'm a big fan of the Salamanders and this sort of blog gives me a lot of hope in seeing them done justice. That Nick also did Oathbreaker and Grudgelore is somewhat reassuring. The Salamanders inhabit, somewhat, a minor part of the dwarf fantasy-archetype (like Space Wolves), so hopefully this should translate well! Hooray!

Hellebore
19-03-2008, 15:28
Interesting.

Certainly puts a different spin on them especially when compared to other chapters like the Raven Guard or the Night Lords who have particularly pale skin.

Hellebore

pookie
19-03-2008, 15:40
Strange that he didnt know that about the Sallies, its pretty much all there is to know on them ( what he mentions is ALL thats known), i wouldnt have thought he would be a good author for a book, when he didnt even know the basics, although maybe a fresh eye on things will be good.

Xisor
19-03-2008, 15:42
Well, it's only a short story, and as he says in his blog: He's looking at exploring the Chapter. World building, as he puts it.

We don't really know that much about them, and he simply went over the basic 'fundamentals' and now, presumably, is looking to build up from there. The fact that he's putting a fair bit of thought into it has me hopeful, at least!

pookie
19-03-2008, 15:53
Well, it's only a short story, and as he says in his blog: He's looking at exploring the Chapter. World building, as he puts it.

We don't really know that much about them, and he simply went over the basic 'fundamentals' and now, presumably, is looking to build up from there. The fact that he's putting a fair bit of thought into it has me hopeful, at least!

true, and i too will be intrested in reading more about this little known chapter, maybe its how he's worded it, thast caused my concern, i dont know, just seems bit of a long winded way of saying what ive just quoted from you.

will we be able to take what he writes as Canon? will it be run past Alan Meritt ( i think its him who seems to be GWs Fluff God? ), if so then i do hope he does a good job and really does justice to the Sallies.

Jedi152
19-03-2008, 15:54
I was a bit perturbed by the black skin and red eyes bit. I'd heard they were dark skinned, but i didn't know that.

Hellebore
19-03-2008, 15:58
Nobody did - it wasn't mentioned in their Index Astartes and any mention of them being 'black' (as in normal human pigmentation) has never been confirmed (and in some cases denied).

I don't even remember Vulkan being described as black with red eyes in Fulgrim, and if it were to show up anywhere, then in the visage of their Primarch would be the prime place.

Hellebore

pookie
19-03-2008, 16:02
Nobody did - it wasn't mentioned in their Index Astartes and any mention of them being 'black' (as in normal human pigmentation) has never been confirmed (and in some cases denied).

I don't even remember Vulkan being described as black with red eyes in Fulgrim, and if it were to show up anywhere, then in the visage of their Primarch would be the prime place.

Hellebore

im pretty sure it has been mentioned before, its why i knew it ( but only the skin colour, not the red eyes), but even so, wouldnt Vulkans Skin be a diffrent colour anyway? he wasnt born on the planet and his gene Seed ( or primachs equivelent ) wouldnt have been affected? or would it? ( see im getting even more intrested in reading it now! :D )

Xisor
19-03-2008, 18:21
It might be noted that the Geneseed mutation could have happened in the (incredibly long) time after the Heresy.

Also, the Heresy books themselves deviate in a few instances. I don't recall the exact quote describing Vulkan in Fulgrim, but it did imply dark skin. But what 'dark' meant could be anything. Certainly, in the artwork and models they've traditionally been portrayed as any given black person. (In the same way that the Wolves might be any given Viking, e.g. a bit of a stereotype)

Regardless, this 'note' seems to derive directly from Rick Priestly one of the original 'dreamers' of the 40k....40kscape. I also read recently a note mentioning that the old Salamanders had infra-red banners (and thus their banners appear black and plain). But in any case: We've almost no canon on them, so anything publish would take the centre stage,

Furthermore, on canon itself, GW routinely asserts that everything in its IP is canon....contradictions and all. Obviously there'll be obvious revisionsism, but strictly speaking it's all viable as 'evidence'. In that sense, Merrit'll most likely see this and rubber stamp it, but given he's went to Ward & Priestly on the matter it seems he's going to basics on the matter and reviewing the canon himself too. It'd still be his interpretation, but if it's any good other folks'll likely take it up as their preferred outlook.

iamkion132
19-03-2008, 23:13
Imagine meeting one of them for the first time. "We're here to save your soul from those dark red eyed monsters over yonder."

biggreengribbly
20-03-2008, 01:28
...I think I'm going to be ill.

Physically Ill.

Words cannot describe my contempt for this piece of "world building".

Hellebore
20-03-2008, 01:32
...I think I'm going to be ill.

Physically Ill.

Words cannot describe my contempt for this piece of "world building".

Uhm, ok. Care to explain why you feel so emetic?


Hellebore

dr.oetk3r
20-03-2008, 02:23
I was a bit perturbed by the black skin and red eyes bit. I'd heard they were dark skinned, but i didn't know that.

TBH, the jet black skin is kinda stupid. I know that they change the background a lot, but considering that there are several pictures of Salamander space marines already in existance with tan skin... it just doesn't make any sense. Also, resistant to fire? :wtf:

Xisor
20-03-2008, 09:01
Resistant to fire could (and IMO probably does) just mean that they've been burned, scolded, branded, scarred and scorched plenty of times in their lives such that their skins more'n just a bit gnarled and they can handle rising temperatures quite nicely.

As for them being portrayed as tan:: It's only in the pictures and models, something that, surprisingly, counts for very little in terms of fluff. The pictures of Russ, Khan, Magnus and Angron in Collected Visions, is that really them? (Russ I hope so, the others I hope not).

Regardless, the Horus Heresy novels have Sanguinius as dark haired, everything else pictured him as blonde. Jet black skin and daemonic eyes is quite cool enough for me. It's a lovely juxtaposition for the so called 'Most Humane Space Marines'.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to actually paint and portray 'jet black skin' without simply painting it straight black?

Hellebore
20-03-2008, 09:07
My suggestion would be to use scorched brown mixed with black as the highlight with a tiny amount of grey added for the absolute.

I've found that if you add some brown to the highlight it takes the 'blue' out of the black whilst still keeping it more or less black.

As for original skin colour, the first modern Salamanders tactical squad (with Armageddon) had a white sergeant, and the few portraits of Salamander marines were all in B&W, so their skin tone was a bit hard to determine (Tu'Shan did not possess negroid facial features even were his portrait to indicate dark skin).

Hellebore

devolutionary
20-03-2008, 09:15
Hot damn that makes them even cooler really. They're the nice guy chapter, but if you paint them as demonic in that sense, you end up with a really cool contrast going on. But they shouldn't take it as far as to imply that they have a satanist cult theme going.

Xisor
20-03-2008, 09:29
But that's it, I suppose. The Salamanders are a chapter with very strong cult influences. In the Horus Heresy Collected Visions we see them as perhaps the most religious of the chapters (second to the Word Bearers, obviously) insofar as they are the ones painted in Devotion and Benevolence (or something like that) clutching an Imperial icon in front of a very inspirational picture of the Emperor (okay, tenuous ground, but still).

Furthermore, it does some excellent justice to the Primogenitors w/Flaws:
- Blood Angels- Vampires
- Space Wolves- Werewolves
- Dark Angels- Cabalish and secretive
- Salamanders- Daemons
- Iron Hands- More machine than man
- Ravenguard- Frankenstein's Monsters

Not exactly a secure overtone, but I think it works reasonably. The 'satanic' cult would then be a connotation rather than an actual theme, (which differentiates them from the above: BA are vampirish, the SW do have a werewolfy 13th Company etc)

Hellebore: I'll try just that on my scouts this evening!

iseeleadpeople
20-03-2008, 21:28
can anyone remeber the first time they released the space marine paint set and the white dwarfs with the salamanders in it? the skin on them was warm grey/black, then they decided to use the salamanders black and green for the dark angels (ooh im feeling old)

Wolf Scout Ewan
21-03-2008, 00:34
Oooh I do love worldbuilding. Its possibly the hardest and most gratifying part of writing.

I have read in places that the Sallies had black skin but the eyes... thats new for me.

The whole culture of worshipping fire as the giver and taker of life exists in just about all cultures... I will be interested to read Nick Kyme's take on it.

What I would really like to see is the Sallies using Flamers and Heavy Flamers together in squads. If fire is such an important part of thier belief system then surely they would use fire based weapons more than a basic chapter, but also taking the "Affinity with fire" further than just a 2d aspect.

Sister_Sin
21-03-2008, 03:03
I remember the days when the Salamanders were one of the Big Four, before the Dark Angels supplanted them. Double digit White Dwarf time frame. Rogue Trader.

Back then they had infravision, red eyes are no shock. Their armor was yellow with wavy black bands, then that became their shoulder pad design for officers and the armor was dark green, but more white than yellow in tone. They had Salamanders Black and Salamanders Green paints for them. Then...they disappeared for a loooooooong time.

Now we have them with Snot Green over Black armor and Black shoulder pad colors...and the insignia has changed. Originally it was an actual salamander inside a flame, the newt type.

I still use that on their Chapter banner, as I still use the yellow and black banding for the character's pads.

I still have some of the Salamander Green and Black. Been a loooong time.

Sister Sin

Wolf Scout Ewan
21-03-2008, 15:47
Ihad those paints too... and to answer the release question I think it was 1989.

Emperor's Grace
21-03-2008, 17:23
Personally, I'd rather imagine them as more like a hot coal:

Jet black under a grey ash dusting with a dull red glowing at the eyes.

Sister_Sin
21-03-2008, 17:38
That's about right on the whole, although most of the ones painted by the Studio had the usual range of flesh tones, sometimes darker than usual. The eyes in the few illustrations sometimes seemed like glowing coals to me. I'd have to dig out the really old stuff to check though; memory isn't always spot on at my age.

Sister Sin