Author Topic: Karak the Keeper or Algeroth?  (Read 3785 times)

Offline Horned Owl

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Karak the Keeper or Algeroth?
« on: July 25, 2012, 07:29:36 AM »


This guy is the current representation of Karak the Keeper, an ancient Templar in the service of the Mistress of the Void. The Templars are a race of humanoid creatures with mechanical bodies, animated by the cold emptiness of Ilian.

He first appeared in the Paul Bonner picture on the Gamemasterīs screen of the Mutant Chronicles 1st edition role-playing game, in a picture which showed Mitch Hunter, Big Bob Watts, Valerie Duval, Maximilian Steiner, Sebastian Crenshaw and Inquisitor Nikodemus, presumably as Doomtrooper teams, storming what is obviously a Citadel of Algeroth. The Apostleīs bladed cross symbol is in evidence, and their opponents are Necromutants and Immaculate Furies, servants of Algeroth, as well as Alakhai the Cunning, the Lord of Warīs commander-in-chief on Venus.

If we do not presume Karak to be visiting a Citadel of Ilianīs chief rival for the pleasant company and a nice chat over tea, this means that the creature in the picture is someone else entirely.

If one looks up the Algeroth sourcebook, with its listing of Algerothīs minions, only one creature fits the description, and that is the Lord of War himself:


"Few, save his Nepharites, have looked upon Algeroth and lived to tell the tale, but those who have speak of a towering figure nearly thirty feet high. His face is a mask of brass and steel within which eyes glow like pools of molten lava. (...) His body is massive and covered with tubes and electrical cables, living Bio-technology is attached to his body, and some of it has merged with the flesh of the Apostle, forming a symbiotic relationship with the Dark Lord. (...)

Algeroth is the ultimate living weapon. His form constantly shimmers and shifts. Weapons ranging from spiked clubs to hi-tech missile launchers present themselves within his torso and then sink back in, vanishing like ripples from the surface of a pool. On the field of battle, Algerothīs form constantly mutates to meet whatever threat presents itself (...)" (Algeroth: The Apostle of War, p. 86) (1994)


"Algeroth can manifest any weapon that he wants to within his body. (...) Algeroth literally IS war and violence, and any weapon of any time from human history is part of the Dark Apostleīs essence – from ivory clubs to intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles.

Algeroth can shift size at will, appearing as anything from slightly larger than a normal man to 30 feet tall. He prefers to use the larger form, but sometimes this is impractical." (Algeroth: The Apostle of War, p. 87) (1994)


If one is doubtful that Algeroth may deign to manifest Himself to mere mortals, I may point out that He did so in the Dementia novel, destroying the renegade Nepharite Ragathol and offering Cyril Dent, Yojimbo, and Mitch Hunter to join his forces:
"Blessed art thou, bellicose and lethal, for you stand before Algeroth, the Apostle of War, and you have pleased him."

(Also, the lighting in Bonnerīs painted citadel makes it hard to determine whether this is maybe only a statue to Algeroth or the Lord of War himself.)

His description in Dementia also fits the picture closely:

"Even more heavily muscled than Ragathol had been, this being had cables and tubes running across his red flesh. A red-gold battle mask covered his face, or so I thought until I saw the metal begin to move and tighten like flesh. (...)

Algeroth opened his hands slowly, but as they moved apart, I saw various weapons fill them and disappear."


Later portrayals of Karak the Keeper, like the black-and-white picture in the Ilian sourcebook (which appeared after the Gamemasterīs screen and the Algeroth supplement) are based on Paul Bonnerīs figure. There are several such representations, such as the one appearing in a Warzone 1st edition supplement. (A similar creature, still readily identifiable but with the addition of barbed and hooked chains, also has been presented as a Nepharite of Ilian armed with a rotary machinegun in 2nd edition Warzone.)

Karak shares some traits with Algeroth, so the switch comes quite naturally. He is described as a Templar whose mechanical body has mutated into grotesque shapes over time by the native Templar self-repair systems. He incorporated his weapons into his body, even though there is no mention of him being able to change forms or produce weapons at will. (Iīm afraid Iīm missing my Ilian book so I cannot quote here. If anyone has it, please post the paragraph!)
 
It is not clear whether the description came first and someone (noting the resemblance) linked Bonnerīs painting to it, or whether someone missed the Algeroth connection, and Karakīs capabilities and background fluff were written to represent the figure.

In any case, there is little visual resemblance between the existing pictures of Templars that were around at the time of the Ilian sourcebookīs writing and the Karak / Algeroth figure. The Bonner Algeroth / Karak clearly shows bare skin in places, whereas the Templars in the MC 1st edition rulebook are completely mechanical, featuring a characteristic lamellar structure on their limbs that is completely missing on Bonnerīs figure. The helmets match only remotely, with the Templars sporting a different face mask and spikes, and Algeroth / Karak having an antler-like structure vaguely resembling a Japanese helmet kuwagata.



The issue is confused by the fact that the Templar on the back of the Ilian sourcebook (which is armed with a Vassht from the Semai armoury, incidentally), drawn by Studio Parente, does show bare skin and bulging muscles, losing both the original Templarsī monastic robes and their calm, graceful insectile creepiness in favour of aggressive barbarian appearance and dynamic pose.




This kind of Templar only remotely resembles the descriptions from the rulebook and from inside the Ilian book, of a race of quasi-robotic beings animated by Ilianīs empty spirit. However, it bears (slightly) more resemblance to the Karak figure, which is probably why the newer Templar miniatures (appearing with 2nd edition Warzone) are modeled on the "barbarian Templar" rather than the original ones. (1st edition Warzone had the original Templars, though.)


What are your thoughts?
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline MCmutant

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Re: Karak the Keeper or Algeroth?
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2012, 08:14:10 AM »
Awsome topic! I believe the Paul Bonner painting is the first time you see the Lord of War himself before they changed/added characters. I actually like this incarnation of Algeroth better than the "official" artwork simply because it was too much.
I like the boardgame "Siege of the Citadel" and bought the Karak the keeper model to represent Algeroth in a custom made last mission.

Offline Horned Owl

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Re: Karak the Keeper or Algeroth?
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2012, 11:59:34 AM »
MCMutant: I also like Bonnerīs version better, definitely. His Algeroth has more of the dignity one would expect from a divine being, while the Parente version seems a wee bit over-burdened with its weapons, which stick out at cumbersome angles.

I do not believe, though, that there was ever a really "official" representation of Algeroth, though the Parente illustration (see Frazettaīs post above) did appear as Algeroth on the DoomTrooper cards, and was probably based on the illustration on p. 100 of the Mutant Chronicles 1st edition rulebook.



The monster in the illustration is not named. Since much of the artwork in the rulebook was concept sketches, it may have been intended to be Algeroth, or not. It would certainly fit the description, though Algeroth was never mentioned to have a nephariteīs horns.

Way after the Algeroth DoomTrooper card was released, the Casualties of War supplement to 1st edition Warzone included Bonnerīs Algeroth on the top of p. 65, though whether he is intended to be the Lord of War himself or a Nepharite Warlord of Algeroth (which is described in the paragraph next to the picture) is not clear. The Warlord is described as being armed with an Azogar chain halberd and a Voriche pistol, though, so the description does not really fit the picture.



Interestingly enough, this is also the supplement where Karak the Keeper first appears for Warzone. He and the Triangled Wheelīs Templars are described on p. 70 ff. There is no picture of him on the description pages, but the Karak illustration from the Ilian sourcebook (which hardly looks like the Bonner figure) is re-printed in the "new rules" section on p. 91.



Karak is first associated with the Bonner picture in Warzone 2nd edition, on p. 81 of the Forces of War rulebook from the basic game box. Note also the illustration of the Nepharite of Ilian armed with a HMG, which is also modeled on the picture, with the addition of the barbed chains which the MC rulebook says are characteristic of Ilianīs Nepharites (p. 105 and sidebar of p. 99).





"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline micmellon

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Re: Karak the Keeper or Algeroth?
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2012, 04:02:59 AM »
Maybe Ilian is making fun about Algeroth.
So Karak the keeper is a kind of joke to tease him   :P
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Offline Horned Owl

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Re: Karak the Keeper or Algeroth?
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2012, 01:00:32 PM »
 :D

And the Nepharite as well.
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Offline MCmutant

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Re: Karak the Keeper or Algeroth?
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2012, 06:52:16 AM »
Something that bothers me also with Karak the Keeper model and/or artwork, if he's suppose to be a follower of Illian then why does he have Algeroths symbol on his tabard? Maybe the staff on Target Games just got lazy. Anyway "my" thought of Algeroth appearance will always be the incarnation in Paul Bonners artwork (as mentioned before)

Offline Horned Owl

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Re: Karak the Keeper or Algeroth?
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2012, 06:54:59 AM »
*quick look*

Youīre right! I never noticed, but he does have the bladed cross symbol of Algeroth. Maybe the miniature was intended to be the Nepharite Warlord in 1st edition Warzone?
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Offline Oakwolf

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Re: Karak the Keeper or Algeroth?
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2012, 03:44:16 AM »
Very interesting topic, i've always had my gripes with that illustration and model as well, given it is present in quite a few spots:

Paul Bonner's artpiece of an Algeroth Citadel
In the Nepharite Warlord entry (Algeroth list)

It looked far too big to be a Nepharite Warlord, and didn't have the typical weapons specified in the entry as well. The Doomtrooper card game used a different picture for the Nepharite warlord too.

In my opinion, Bonner originally depicted Algeroth in his painting, but target games just decided to recycle that part of Bonner's artwork and from then on it stuck as it being Karak as far as they were concerned. We can be sure that it was their intent with the model. On the blisters, it was sold as Karak the Keeper, and the rules always fitted the weapons on the model too.

I also remember (iirc) that the Algeroth symbol is also the Dark Legion symbol as a whole in the solar system, so maybe the sculptor just went for that.
No matter what, Algeroth can choose his appearance so...he might look exactly like Karak if he wants to (who is, after all an instrument of war only). In the same pattern, it's entirely possible that Algeroth provided the weapons and armor for Ilian's chosen in return for some other dark favor.



Offline Horned Owl

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Re: Karak the Keeper or Algeroth?
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2013, 06:59:36 AM »
Yes, you are correct. The bladed cross symbol was originally intended to be the Dark Legion symbol as a whole. This was because the main adversaries in Siege of the Citadel, Blood Berets and Fury of the Clansmen were Algerothīs minions. Though the other Apostles had their own runes as far back as the first edition Mutant Chronicles rulebook.
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."