måndag 14 oktober 2019

Titandeath and other novels that ignore the models they are supposed to describe.

For the last mount I have not had much hobby time as I have been at work more or less constantly for the last three and a half weeks. I have however managed to read the novel, Titandeath by Guy Haley. It is centered around the titan battles taking place in the Beta-Garmon cluster during the Horus Heresy. In general I think it is a really good read with an engaging story, portraying charters from both the loyalist (Legio Solaria) and traitor (Legio Vulpa) sides. During the story we get an in-depth view of the life of titan crews both in battle as well as post battle. I find this highly entertaining as it gives more depth to the hobby of collection titan models. A lot of technology concerning titan operation is introduced (at least to me) in the from of drop ships and titan recovery as well as how void shields work, re arming, ammunition management etc. Things I have longed missed in the fictional description of titan war fare. I still think more could be done in this field to make titans as a military aspect more believable. So in general a very good source book for the ambitious Princeps.

And now we come to the main problem I have with this book and also others dealing with titans, Immersion breaking! So why is that. Well it is as simple as scale issues. I understand that the authors have some artistic liberties in interpreting and shaping the world around our beloved figures, but when they disregard the models themselves it becomes immersion breaking as it is obvious that it can't be the same thing that is described as what is in my cabinets.

Let me take some examples. But first let us establish some base line about the model scales of the Warhound, Reaver, Warlord and Impertator. According to "official" sources they stand approximately 15 m, 26 m, 33 m and 55 m tall respectively. This is in accordance with the sizes of the models except for the Imperator which does not have a model (at least not in 28 mm scale). These heights are also stated in several novels (but I can't find the appropriate page references for this).
So far, all seams to be in agreement about what a titan is and how big it is. So what is my problem then. Well, in the novels the human characters have to interact with the titans, playing out some action according to the story, and this is where it all collapses. For some reason the authors have not looked at the models, or they have and completely ignored what they saw.

Let us start out with the actual accounts from Titandeath. Here we get an in-depth description of the crew of a Reaver Titan. Here follows a number of quotations from the novel introducing the crew.


"Esha forced herself to look outwards, past her suit visor and the presence of the six women around her,..."
"Fenina Bol, one of Esha's moderati bellatus.", "Odani Jehan, Eshas second bellatus.",  "Nepha Nen, the third weapons operator...", "... Yeha Yeha, moderati primus,...", "The remaining members of the crew were Mephani Ohana, oratorius,... and Jephenir jehan... as Esha's steersman."

"Reavers in other Legions might take a further two moderati, but the Legio Solaria were mistresses of the hunt, and the princeps had no need of additional crew in either the navigatorial or sensorium positions."

"A passionless ... counted down... , as they ran within the Reaver.", "They had to duck through the low door into the machine."

"Servitors stared sightlessly at them from their alcoves.", "The small door leading to the command deck slid a side. Jephenir Jehan, Yeha Yeha, Mephani Ohana and finally Esha Ani Mohana clambered into the thight space. Fenina Bol, Nepha Nen and Odani Jehan... splitting left and right to pass though the doors leading to the gunnery chambers set within the shoulders."
"Magos Deimechanic Omega-6... , He was the only full sentient aboard not hard wired into the manifold,..."

And from a later episode.

"Down there, in the cramped space around the core, was the realm of the titan enginseer. He was alone, overseeing the dozen slaved servitors bonded to the machine..."

So to go from this a Reaver has 6-8 moderati and a Princeps. Some servitors in the passageway, an engineseer and 12 servitors slaved to the core. So in total some 20+ human beings. There are 4 seats in the command cockpit, and three gunnery rooms in the shoulders as well as an entire engine room below the main deck. I assume that there should also be seat for the two moderati not present in the Solaria Reavers. Looking at the model it is hard to phantom this and that sort of takes something away from the story. Why give in-death explanations about heat management when firing energy weapons if you can't get the most basic things like the inner dimensions of a titan tight? 

The crew of Domine Ex Venari as per Guy Haley depicted with the body of a Reaver. The servitors are represented by the bloob of necron skitarii to the left.

And this is in this case totally unnecessary. There is nothing in the story that demands this many crew members. It would have been totally fine with the three crew as shown in the cockpit and the engineer in the main body. 

Another thing to notice is the way the titans innards are arranged. There seams to be two decks, with the boarding portal at the back between the shoulders, while the reactor is below the main deck in the waist. In the lore the Reaver is described a more durable layout as the reactor is placed in the back, screening it from frontal attacks, which is inline with what the model actually looks like. This is in contrast to the Warlord which has a more central core and a larger body box that could actually house a number of decks. The boarding portal is actually from beneath between the two rear reactor housings and the main body is only made up of one deck as the upper body is rather flat.

Once again there was no need to change this for the story. Entrance could have been through the hole between the reactors as per the model. And the engineer could have been stationed in the hallway.

There was no need to change those facts about the Reaver!

One might argue that the model is not fully to scale and that there might be more internal spacing that is not represented on the model due to sculpting limitations. But if the Reaver is supposed to be 26 m tall, assuming that half of that is legs. there is only 13 m left for the upper body. Discounting 3-4 m for the pelvis and mid joint there is 9 m left and that includes the carapace weapon which is something like 4-5 m or so. This means that the main torso of the Reaver is something like 4-5 m high which is only enough for one deck unless there is no internal superstructure. Actually measuring the internal model dimensions the torso part is 6 cm which would be about 4 m in 28 mm scale. 

In another passage the Reaver is ambushed and subsequently  boarded. 


"She (Esha) didn't wait..., but ran for the hatch to downdecks, showing past her moderati as they raced for their seats. She yanked open the trapdoor, taking the furnace blast of the reactor fully in the face."

"Boarders!..." "She caught the boarders at the back, about to breach the door. There were five of them, wearing fully enclosed carapace armor..." "They clung to the shoulders around the access portal with magnetic gear." "Snapping lasgun fire rattled around the atrium,..., as emplaced lasers dropped out of the ceiling and raked the room..." "The enemy could be battering their way into the reactor. Down there, in the cramped space around the core, was the realm of the titan enginseer. He was alone, overseeing the dozen slaved servitors bonded to the machine..." "A fasadian burst through the door,... . The man stumbled into the room, arms outstretched. ...too late to stop the grenade bounching down into the well where the moderati sat." "There were a second man behind the first..."

Here, once again the dual level architecture is referenced with a rear pointing access portal. At least two fully armored soldiers are accommodated together with the 4 women in the cockpit. And a grenade goes off in that space and only one person gets killed. I get that the cockpit of a titan is the nerve center and that it would be cool to have some action there, but just look at the model. It is hard to imagine how the three actual models actually get in and about of that space considering the princeps throne, let alone an additional crew member and two soldiers. Also the implied lay out puts the moderati in-front of the princeps which is not the case in the Reaver were they are sitting to the sides and behind the princeps.

All this makes it immersion breaking. In essences this book could have been about any bipedal war-machines fighting in any sci-fi setting. There is nothing but the names that indicate that this is about Titans in the 30k/40k universe. The descriptions does not fit with what we know about titans in the warhammer universe.

And that leads us to our next unbelievable experience in titan descriptions, the Imperator. This abomination has been described in a number of novels and even though it lacks a 28 mm model to reference, just making a quick back of the envelop calculation would make you realize that what you are writing is not physically possible within the agreed physical dimensions of an Imperator.  

In graphics (based on the Epic scale version from the 90th) the Imperator is shown as a towering machine with a city on its back, replete with towers, cathedrals, gun batteries, battlements etc.
And this I think is the problem with this titan. The Epic scale was not well defined and who ever sculpted the titan did not stick to the scale leading to misinterpretations in what it actually contains. Even in the Epic setting the model does not make sense if you were to place infantry models on the back. Towers, brides etc would look very small indeed.

"The greatest of all titans were the great Imperators."

"From its bastion feet to the top of the tallest tower it was nearly twice the height of a warlord titan, and much heavier" "A small army was garrisoned within"

Keeping in mind that the Imperator is supposed to be approximately 55 m tall the following descriptions makes no sense.

"The eyes on an imperator were large enough to serve as true occuli. Tiny figures moved on the command deck behind them."

"Into the titan!... disappearing with in the many portals that led inside the akropoliz."

"Sangunius was moving before the ringing impact died, allowing five of his sons to follow him. Moderati stared in their command thrones."

"The command czella of the Imperator was impressive, not like the cramped spaces that accommodated the crew of smaller Titans. It had many commonalities with a void ship command deck..."

"Myrmidons in the black of the Dark Mechanicum lurched into sudden life from sentry alcoves about the bridge's upper deck."

"Furious combat erupted as the two forces met."

"Moderati attempted to pilot their giant charge while battle raged around them" 

"The armored gates to the Titans antae opened and tech guard streamed within... . ...four myrmidons fell in return."

"he cleaved a myrmidon in twain.. knocked back another..."

So if we are to believe the author the titan cazella is large, large enough to house the command crew, Sangunius, five space marines, six Myrmidons, and an undefined number of tech guard fighting among the moderati command thrones.

The battle on the command deck Axis Mundo represented by Gulliman and 5 marines facing of 6 myrmidons (only have three so three are represented by three thalaxes) and some tech guards. The white cut out is the approximate size of an Imperator head if one goes make a realistic version. Seen is also the floor plan of a Warlord head.

Assuming that the head of the Imperator is proportional to the body in approximately the same way that he head of a warlord is to its body we could assume that the Imperator head is eight times as large volume vice as the warlords head (twice the size in all three dimensions). The internal measurements of a warlord titan head is approximately 3x5x3 (WxLXxH) cm which in 28 mm scale would be something like 2x4x2 m which means the internal volume of the Imperator command deck would be 4 wide, 8 m long and 4 m high, more or less like a large living room. One could perhaps imagine that it could be divided into to decks with a some what limited head space but it is not huge. Especially not large enough to house all the action described in the novel.

Another way of looking at it would be to do the math. If the titan is 55 m high and assuming the legs are half that the super structure is 22.5 m. The pelvis and midsection joint would be something in the 5 m range. Then we have the acropolis on the back. If this is say, three levels that takes up something like 9 m. that leaves us with a 8 m torso. Which would indicate that the head is in the order of 4-6 tall which is in line with the above speculation of the head size being twice that of the warlords.

That naturally leads to the next part, the acropolis. The city on the titans back. Apart from this being a ridiculous idea in it self lets look at the numbers. If the titan is 55 m tall it can assume that the platform on the back holding the acropolis is no more than half the height squared, i.e. 22.5 m by 22.5 m. Now that is a respectable area for a building, but it is hardly a city.

The Iowa class battle ship gun turret is about 11 m diameter with 20 m gun barrels. If the titan has four gun towers as depicted on the model these would be touching with nothing in-between if they were the same size as the battle ship turrets. So if we need to get some bridges, battlements etc in there as well the turrets would be limited to 3-4m, i.e. the same as a modern main battle tank. that would however only leave 14 m between the towers for the battlements, which is the length of your average house. So the acroplis is actually a villa surrounded by four M1 abrams turrets. Not much to fight over and it would probably not have many portals that would let a spacemarine enter.

The whole idea of having a building on top of the armor of a fighting machine is stupid. The whole point of having armor is to protect the things inside, i.e., what ever is in the acropolis should be beneath the armor plates. That is also disregarding the motion of the titan. the acropolis would be swaying around quite a lot as the titan walks, making it impossible to walk around in the buildings or on the walkways, battlements etc.

But those facts has not stooped authors from consistently describing the Imperator as having a sprawling city, the size of a starship as seen in the following descriptions:

Vengeful spirit by Graham McNeill, soft back, p 497-503, 

"The multi tiered command bridge of Paragon of terra smelled of oil and incense...  . Two hundred calculus logi, servitors and deck crew were plugged into tactica-enginers and command consoles... ."

"An Imperator titan was a land-bound starship, as power full and as demanding a mistress as any void craft. Crewed by thousands though out its towering height... "

"Princeps Kalonice stood at the jutting prow of the strategium,... . Encased in the body-carapace of a Lorica Thallax, all that remained of Etana Kalonice was her skull and spine,... ."

Here the titan described is huge, just ahving hundreds of people and their work deskes requires a room much larger than what is possible. Assuming that each person requires a square meeter each that is head would be 10 m x 20 m just for these guys. That is the size of a Reaver titan! And that the titan is crewed by thousands of people is just rediculus. Most of the titans volume would be necessity be taken up by structural support structures, pistons, pipes, wiring, energy sources etc...  there is not room for that many people in a 55 m high structure. the statue of liberty is 46m, i.e the same size as an Imperator and I don't think that thousands of people are allowed inside the statue at the same time (can't find any number on this though) nor that 200 people can fit in the head.

Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, p 390-392 softback

"The defense towers that served as the titans legs spat turret fire down in a ceaseless barrage."

"... all eighteen remaining Warhounds were howling up at their prey. Each of them as tall as the titans knee,... ."

"..., Chorinthian's massive arms - each the size of a hab-spire-..."

"..., begin boarding -sige at once. Repeat: lay sige to the Corinthian."

"kharn fought in the blood rain, butchering skitarii along the battlements. The fortress on Corinthians back was already drenched with the downpour, with blood sluicing from the gargoyles and rain gutters to fall to the city below."

"The defenders mustered from the barracks fort a last stand,..."

"The battlements were wide, more like gantries and iron brides than anything like a fortress from a feudal world."

"With the last of the skitarii slain, the World Eaters went through the covering slaves and brain dead servitors lingering in the habitation quarters."

Once again. The acropolis is described to be larger than it can be on a 55 m walking battle machine. Or the barracks and living quarters are very cramped. And why would you have barracks and living quarters in a machine of this relatively small size. I understand that modern time warships has this arrangement. But that I would guess is more down to the fact that they are boats surrounded by water. No other modern fighting machines has these arrangements.

Well that is a wall of text and I might be preaching to the already convinced but I think it is lazy of the authors contracted by GW to put their model based IP into fiction not to at least look at the models and try to imagine how these would work in a semi realistic way. I know there are horrible examples to the contrary were the authors are describing the models in a to literal way also, but that generally boils down to characters always being in battle armor striking hero poses even when not on the battle field.

These are my thoughts on the subject, you might agree or you might not.

4 kommentarer:

  1. I thought it was a brilliant book, although you are not wrong, the facts between models and fluff never match up but I enjoyed it regardless. Suggest you don't read Imperator or Warlord: Fury of the God Machines either, they definitely have scale issues too and multiple decks and elevators inside etc.

    1. I also thought it was a brilliant book and enjoyed reading it. it gives a look behind the scenes and it gives plausible answers to some of the logistics around titan battles. Just which he had stayed more true to the models. So that it was more recognizable warhammer except for the names.

  2. Gundam-it ! You might be technically correct.

    However, these are tales from the age of legends, perhaps written in a post truth environment, despite what the Remembrancers would have us believe. So the tales are full of exagerations and boasts. Perahps.


    1. Well I guess that is probably how it is. Artistic freedom to make a good story better.