Sunday, 23 March 2014

How To Fix Kaldor Draigo

We're taking a brief break from looking at Supplement Codex: Crimson Slaughter due to a lack of time. We've already covered the main bit most other websites usually skip over, and as per usual the army rules are something even a semi-focused individual could fart out in five minutes, but they do take time to analyse. As such, it seemed best to return to another problem which has been long overdue a look: Grey Knights Grand Master Kaldor Draigo. Or if you know anything about Warhammer 40,000 lore: Mary McSue M. Suington.

Widely considered to be an embarrassment to anyone who actually cares about the lore, Kaldor Draigo is viewed as one of the worst things Mat Ward ever created. With little to no character beyond a long string of victories. Easily beating down M'Kar (Ward's favourite punching bag) single handledly during his first battle, the character's entire background is simply a list of increasingly impossible events or displays of power. This eventually culminated in two instances: 

First taking down Mortarion and his body guard on unaided, slaying them all and then bench pressing the daemon primarch down to perform open heart graffiti. Bare in mind, primarchs are figures second only to the God-Emperor in power and have acts which make Heracles' tasks look almost tame, such as Leman Russ crawling out of a volcano as an infant unscathed. After being fired into the planet. This was thankfully corrected by Laurie Goulding, who performed an almost superhuman act of writing talent of turning this event into something besides and embarrassment. Not to mention turning the Grey Knights back towards their puritan roots with them balking at the idea of using heresy, and making Draigo a likable character. Wait, that's unfair, he actually managed to give Draigo a personality.

The second was being dragged into the Warp by M'Kar and trapped there seemingly exiled to fight the daemons there. His every effort to escape only results in him being drawn back and tries to play it up as some tragic event where has no hope of scoring a lasting victory.This is despite slaying several of Slaanesh's chosen daemons, stealing the axe of Khorne's favoured Bloodthirster only to then reforge and purity it through his mind into a sword (don't think about that too much, it will only hurt to do so), and destroying the realms of two of the Chaos Gods. Yes, they reformed afterwards but the Garden of Nurgle apparently took an extremely long time to do so, suggesting he had some impact.

It's this second one which is still the most problematic to the setting, but I think I might have a possible solution, First however, for those who don't understand what the problems here are, here's quick run down on the place he was banished to:

The Warp is the realm of daemons in Warhammer 40,000, a place completely alien to anything in the material realm. Used by ships as a form of hyperspace, it's a dimension directly connected to the one the races of the universe dwell in and is directly impacted by its events. Thoughts, concepts but, above all, emotions give it shape and form into entities within them. 

As you can imagine, it is a place completely unlike our own in every possible aspect. There is no "up" "down" solid formations or even landmarks. Places such as the Garden of Nurgle are mere concepts which the religions around the gods have dreamed up, versions of their domains which have been numbed down or thought up in ways mortals can actually comprehend. The few brief glimpses we have been given through a daemon's perspective have been indescribable swirling masses of teeming daemons in forms of pure concept and energy. Each moving through some massive sea of pure information and light, sparking with emotion.

Whenever a daemon crosses over from the Immaterium, they are weaker and require a tentative connection to the Warp because of their nature as energy beings. Severing that or improving the barriers between worlds causes them to become banished. As they often become weaker over time without weakening barriers, because the material world is anathema to them as theirs is to us, many often possess the bodies of mortals.

You're probably beginning to see the problems. 

TL:DR version: Imagine R'Lyeh if it was submerged in burning napalm, then filled with countless sharks and krakens formed out of sheer hatred. If you can think that up, you're still a thousand miles off but you're on the right track.

Ward wrote Driago walking around in this place, without any problems, killing daemons as they lined up to fight him. The Warp as it is written is effectively described as a physical realm with a handful of minor differences and a slightly different landscape, with landmarks and locations Draigo can find easily. That's just the minor problems though, the fact he's not instantly dead upon entry is a much bigger one.

In Soul Drinker, the Ciaphas Cain books or countless other works, being physically flung into the Warp utterly obliterates a being on a mental and physical level. Cain himself was forced to use a teleporter and the split-second transition came closer to killing him than anything else in his career. For no apparent reason, this doesn't happen to Draigo, nor does it drive him completely insane from its sheer impossibility. Previously the only ways to survive were by having a daemonic influence directly protect them, various ritualistic wards which are specifically used in a Chaos portal, or a Gellar field to create an isolated bubble in the Immaterium. Draigo has none of these and is doing just fine without them.

Worse still, depictions seem to suggest the place is rather absent of daemons. Rather than fighting countless trillions of them with no way to combat them, they apparently rush him one at a time and in forms he can somehow understand.

Long story short - Draigo has been put in a realm which could instantly kill him, and the lore only works if you completely and utterly ignore all basic established facts about that realm to begin with. If even one is accounted for, Dragio should immediately be dead.
Every single issue relates to the Warp itself more than Draigo being in enemy territory or a daemon influenced realm. 

As such the obvious solution seems to be to have Draigo only think he is in the Warp but be somewhere similar. Namely the eldar Webway.

We know from lore that the Webway is patrolled and defended by various factions with eldar settlements even existing in its tunnels. That said, sections have been sealed off after having been overrun by Chaos or broken away somehow. Imagine if M'Kar held dominion over one of these fragments and he intentionally drew Draigo into it, not to kill him but instead to break the Grey Knight.

This would make sense as daemon princes are noted to frequently be the guiding influence over daemon worlds. Having one choose an area of the Webway would play to their hatred of that race and a desire to corrupt anything not under their control. Because of its corrupted state, it would allow for the presence of swarms of daemons to appear as is described fighting Draigo, yet it would remain alien enough for him not to recognise it. Better yet, as it was intended for mortal races to use and travel through, unlike the Warp it would be viable for him to actually be trapped there in the same manner as the original lore was trying to depict.

With no way out Draigo could comprehend and the place suffering from the same time displacement effects as in the Eye of Terra, M'Kar could trap Draigo in there for as long as he pleased. Forcing the Grey Knight to keep fighting until his strength of will was slowly eroded, set up in faux situations which seemed to depict him accomplishing great deeds only for them to have no impact. It would be enough to slowly strip the warrior of his will and sanity, a far better fate for someone M'Kar held such enmity towards than mere death.

Furthermore, the Webway itself was used as a method of travel to various gates, worlds and places the eldar had visited in the past. Even assuming that there were no stable Warp portals, the corrupted Webway gates and such could be used to periodically fling him out into the universe. Occasionally giving Draigo these fleeing hopes of escape, even seeing his battle brothers again, only to be slammed shut as the forces under M'Kar's command draw him back in.

This would keep the horribly mishandled attempts at tragedy the original story was aiming for but would sidestep some of the biggest issues. While it does not imprison Draigo in a more fitting place such as the Ghoul Stars or a daemon world within the Eye of Terror, it's the one with the most opportunities available. One with even less hope for escape with no chance of outsiders ever penetrating its boundaries or even finding release with M'Kar having now been obliterated. Plus it would add the additional horror of the warrior being tormented until he was corrupted.

This is just a personal opinion however, but given other attempts to solve this have ranged from "Draigo is secretly a daemon and doesn't realise it" to "The secret organisation no one knows about has built this up as propaganda for the downtrodden citizens" this seems like the best option.

Still, if anyone has any alternatives of their own please leave them in the comments. It would be interesting to see if anyone else has come up with any ideas to salvage this addition to the lore.


  1. I like the idea of leaving the stories in the book mostly as is, but remove Draigo entirely from the game (his model can be used to represent a Grand Master since they don't have their own), and change it to him dying as soon as he enters the warp, everything else, is made up by the other knights, where they see something that usually can't happen so they attribute it to Draigo, as well as using it as an excuse for why they don't conform to the Codex Astartes (they're still held accountable by the inquisition): "Where's your Supreme Grand Master/Chapter Master?" "He's lost in the warp, but he'll "return", someday maybe."
    Really powerful knights appearing from nowhere to protect the younger ones? Dead Grand Masters that were summoned in the same way Mordrak summons his former subordinates, but pinned on Draigo.
    The legends of him doing amazing deeds are legends told to younger knights to give them hope that there is nothing in the warp that they cannot defeat, when the legends never really happened.

    All that needs to happen then is just remove the Daemonhosts and you'll have the old Grey Knights back (mostly anyway).

  2. Another thought I just had, keep the written lore mostly the same, but have Draigo die when he enters the warp, and have his reappearances just be essentially a demon created by the Grey Knights (or a minor god who hates the others like malice), since the warp is affected by emotions and psykers so strongly, and since Draigo only appears in the really big warp portals, have the Grey Knights manifest him without even realizing that they are doing it, the stories about him are just things they make up to give each other hope, and that their greatest hero that they all look up to is actually just a warp-spawned creature fits the feel of 40K better in my opinion.

  3. There's so many ways to go it's almost endless... Malcador died on the golden throne helping the Emperor; it could be him on the throne and the Emperor is alive and using Draigo like Khorne apparently uses Kharn, as an avatar. Sacrifices could be just to keep the beacon going. Also Grey knights fight in the warp all the time and space Marines have led redemption crusades and returned. If the first Supreme Grand Master was Omegeon maybe Draigo is too.