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Filtering by Category: The Black Madonna

Interview with Fredrik Malmberg

We are happy to announce that we had the pleasure and great honor of welcoming a true legend in the Swedish roleplaying industry, Fredrik Malmberg, on the show.

Fredrik was one the founders of Äventyrsspel / Target Games, the company who made KULT, Drakar och Demoner, Mutant and many more back in the day. Today he is the CEO of Cabinet Entertainment, which owns the KULT license as well as the licenses of old Äventyrsspel games like Mutant, Mutant Chronicles, Warzone, Doomtrooper and Chronopia. Cabinet Entertainment also owns the IP’s created by the author Robert E. Howard, like Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane and others.

We spent about an hour speaking about the history of Swedish RPG's, the company he founded, the creation of and controversy surrounding KULT as well as his views on the development we have seen in the roleplaying industry over the last few years.

Music by: Atrium Carceri

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A Swedish legend.

A Swedish legend.

The Black Madonna: Q&A

A big thank you to all who sent in questions regarding our playthrough of “The Black Madonna”. We answered every question we got and hope that you will enjoy our answers.
With this we close the book on “The Black Madonna” and bid it a fond farewell.

Next Friday it’s time for our new campaign, “Curse of Strahd” for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition with Craig as the Dungeon Master.

Campaign: "The Black Madonna", KULT: Divinity Lost
Music by: Atrium Carceri

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The Black Madonna: Postmortem

That’s it. It’s over. After 17 play sessions and 35 episodes we have finally finished “The Black Madonna” for KULT: Divinity Lost. The journey took us from Hamburg to Berlin, Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, Moscow and finally Leningrad, with stops in the Dream World and Inferno.

Listen to us talk at length about our experiences in this postmortem that was recorded two days after we finished the campaign, back in mid-December of last year.

Tomorrow we will be answering your questions!

Campaign: "The Black Madonna", KULT: Divinity Lost
Music by: Atrium Carceri

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The Black Madonna 35: Victory Day

The Great Patriotic War came to define the soul of the Soviet Union. It was a brutal, merciless slaughter and the Soviet war dead, both civilian and military, is estimated at 25 million people. 1.5 million of those died at the Siege of Leningrad. It was the sacrifice and perseverance of the people of the Soviet Union that ultimately defeated Nazi Germany.

But what followed the war was not peace, but a Cold War, a paranoid regime that murdered millions of its own people, tried to control their thoughts and worked them to death in gulags. A dictatorship that made slaves of the people they supposedly had liberated.  Half of Europe was plunged in to a repressive darkness… and dawn did not break until 1989.

Yet, the sacrifices of the Soviet Union in the Great Patriotic War are celebrated every year on May 9th at Red Square. Victory Day.

This is the end. Apotheosis.

Campaign: "The Black Madonna", KULT: Divinity Lost
Music by: Atrium Carceri

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Victory?

Victory?

That which is guarded.

That which is guarded.

The Crypts underneath the Black Cathedral and Kalenko's Palace.

The Crypts underneath the Black Cathedral and Kalenko's Palace.

The Black Madonna 34: Gorbachev

Mikhail Sergeyvich Gorbachev was the eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union. He launched the policies of glasnost and perestroika, allowed free speech and established elected legislatures at every level of power. His goal was not the destruction of the Soviet Union or the dismantling of the communist state, it was to modernize and reform the country. The communist system was a dictatorship with little regard for human rights yes, but Gorbachev insisted that there were many positive aspects that were worth saving.

“We were too late with our reforms… The Soviet Union offered lots of prospects to those who lived there, and it could have had a future if it had modernized and adapted to new challenges. Yes, I regret its collapse very much” he said in an interview in 2011.

Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1990 for his role in ending the Cold War.

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Savior or destroyer?

Savior or destroyer?

Interview with Gunilla Jonsson and Michael Petersen

A dream came true for us when we got the chance to have a lengthy conversation with Gunilla Jonsson and Michael Petersen, the designers of The Black Madonna and the original KULT that came out in 1991.

Today they are working on new material for KULT: Divinity Lost as well as a novel set in the universe, and we got an opportunity to talk to them about the history of the game, as well as the future!

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Gunilla & Michael.

Gunilla & Michael.

Interview with Petter Nallo, Helmgast

The man behind the mythos in KULT: Divinity Lost is the acclaimed Swedish master of horrors, Petter Nallo. We had the opportunity to spend an hour with him talking about the process of making KULT: Divinity Lost, the vision that the team at Helmgast has and also some exciting thoughts about the future.

We hope that you will find this interview… enlightening.

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The Black Madonna 33: OMON

OMON, Otryad Militsii Osobogo Naznacheniya (the Special Purpose Police Unit) were created as the special forces of the Soviet police in 1988. It is a paramilitary force and used without hesitation to violently crack down on demonstrations and riots. They were also used extensively during the dissolution of the Soviet Union as well as the later conflict in Chechnya. Their signature is the black berets that they wear.

They were regularly deployed to disrupt the Moscow Pride parade and harass and arrest those participating. In 2012 a Moscow court banned gay pride parades in the city for the next one hundred years.

Campaign: "The Black Madonna", KULT: Divinity Lost
Music by: Atrium Carceri

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Goon squad of the Kremlin.

Goon squad of the Kremlin.

Missile Base M13.

Missile Base M13.

The Black Madonna 32: Chumak

Allan Chumak was a faith healer whose TV show was popular in the years before the fall of the Soviet Union. Having lost their faith in communism and their government the populace turned to the supernatural and the “extrasensory powers” of Chumak.

It was believed that he was capable of “distance-healing” and could make any liquid become a medicine able to heal illnesses. In anticipation of the show viewers across Russia would put jars with water, toothpaste and other liquids in front of their TV screens, waiting for Chumak to apply his powers through the airwaves.

At its peak his show had millions of viewers, viewers hoping that a former journalist turned healer could make them healthy and… perhaps even help alleviate their fears of the impending collapse. Allan Chumak died in 2017.

Campaign: "The Black Madonna", KULT: Divinity Lost
Music by: Atrium Carceri

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Have faith.

Have faith.

The Black Madonna 31: Fulcrum

Mikoyan Gurevich 29, MiG-29. A beautiful killer, commissioned by Soviet High Command in 1969 specifically to dominate the air and counter the threat posed by the F-15 and F-16 fighter platforms. NATO designated it “Fulcrum”, one of the more flattering designations given to a Soviet aircraft.

When the wall fell and Germany was reunited, the new German state retained a number of MiG-29s from the former East German Nationale Volksarmee. This was the first time NATO was able to get their hands on one of these planes and the German squadron flying the Fulcrums found themselves bombarded with requests from NATO pilots for a chance to fly against them.

The biggest advantage the MiG-29 had was the monocular lens system the pilot could wear, giving him the ability to lock R73-Vympel missiles on targets far away from where the aircraft's nose was pointed to. Together with an excellent air frame this made the MiG-29 truly deadly in dogfights, humbling many of the foreign visitors in their first tangles with the Fulcrum.

Campaign: "The Black Madonna", KULT: Divinity Lost
Music by: Atrium Carceri

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The support about which a lever pivots.

The support about which a lever pivots.

Air Base F3.

Air Base F3.

The Black Madonna 30: Polygal

Hauptsturmführer Sigmund Rascher was a doctor with the SS and, through his wife, a personal friend of Himmler. During the war he conducted several horrific human experiments at the concentration camp in Dachau. 

He had prisoners put in pressure chambers, trying to simulate the change in pressure that pilots falling freely from very high altitudes would experience. He also put prisoners in icewater tanks for hours, trying to find ways of curing hypothermia. One attempt was made to rewarm the victims by throwing them in boiling water. Another through human warmth, by placing the victim between naked Romani women from the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

Rascher also experimented with blood coagulation and a compound named Polygal that would make wounds close faster. Subjects were given the compound and then shot with a pistol or had their limbs amputated to study the effects.

Rascher met his end after having tried to trick Himmler that his wife had given birth to three children even after reaching the age of 48; that he had unlocked the secrets of fertility. Himmler used this in propaganda material and when it then turned out that Rascher had simply purchased or kidnapped the babies, Himmler felt betrayed. 

Rascher's punishment was to be sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp as a prisoner. He was finally moved to Dachau, were he had committed his inhuman experiments, and executed at the camp on the orders of Himmler three days before the Americans liberated it.

Campaign: "The Black Madonna", KULT: Divinity Lost
Music by: Atrium Carceri

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Rascher at work.

Rascher at work.

The People's Movement Slava.

The People's Movement Slava.

The Black Madonna 29: Metapolitics

Especially among the far-right , the term ”metapolitics” is used to refer to activities that try to influence the political climate, without necessarily running in an election and hoping to win.  The gist of the idea is that in situations when the idea itself, or the message carrier, is tainted by history to the mainstream public you need to begin by changing the political discourse and slowly making ideas that used to be unthinkable seem acceptable and logical. 

The easiest way to do this is by generating fear, creating distrust in the institutions of society and leveraging inherent xenophobia. A certain percentage of the population will always be swayed by this and “politicians finally daring to tell the truth”.

The established parties will have no choice but to respond and often this will force them to start adopting your ideas, ultimately positioning you as a fully normal political force among others. Perhaps they will even invite you to join a coalition?

Campaign: "The Black Madonna", KULT: Divinity Lost
Music by: Atrium Carceri

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The unacceptable becomes acceptable.

The unacceptable becomes acceptable.

The Black Madonna 28: Lictor

Romulus, the first king of Rome, appointed 12 lictors to attend him. The lictors were bodyguards, strongly built men and often Centurions retired from the legion. They were assigned to Rome's emperors, magistrates and consuls. They carried fasces, bundles of wood sometimes including an axe with its blade emerging. This symbolized their power to, upon their master's command, punish Roman citizens and carry out capital punishment.

The number of lictors a magistrate commanded symbolized his "imperium", or power to command. The Roman emperors had 12, which was increased to 24 for Dictators.

Servants of God

Servants of God

The Black Madonna 27: Sonnenrad

The ideological center of the SS was at Wewelsburg castle in North Rhine-Westphalia. The organization was very interested in esoteric concepts and mysticism and it is believed that the castle still holds many secrets. One of them is in the Obergruppenführer hall, a room held up by twelve columns and with a dark sun symbol embedded in the floor.

It is said that the floor design was made on the request of Himmler based on an "old Aryan emblem". Each spoke of the sun wheel supposedly represents one "knight" of the ”Order of Death’s head”, the inner core of the SS.

Today the symbol is used by Neo-Nazis as an alternative to the, in many countries, outlawed swastika. Some believe that the black sun is a mystical source of energy, "capable of regenerating the Aryan race".

Dawn?

Dawn?

The Black Madonna 26: White Aggression

“Vit Aggression” was a Swedish white power music group active during the late 80’s and 90’s. The members were affiliated with the Swedish branch of the Neo-Nazi organization “White Aryan Resistance” and they named their first album “Död åt Zog”, or “ Death to the Zionist Occupational Government”. Their sound is a mix between punk rock and heavy metal fairly typical for bands active on the white power scene

In 1998 Vit Aggression played at the Brottby Neo-Nazi rock concert. Riot police ended up storming the concert and arresting 250 participants, most for hate speech and for doing Nazi salutes.

Earlier, in 1991, they played at an event organized by the Sweden Democrats, a Swedish far right party with roots in Neo-Nazism, after a demonstration they held at the statue of Charles XII in Stockholm. Today the Sweden Democrats are Sweden’s third largest political party, with opinion polls for a time showing them to be the second largest.

Hatred.

Hatred.

Germanische Gemeinschaft Headquarters on Lychener straße.

Germanische Gemeinschaft Headquarters on Lychener straße.

The Black Madonna 25: The Copenhagen MC War

In the waning days of 1980 the motorcycle gang “United MC” made history by becoming the first chapter of the Hells Angels in Scandinavia. This was not a move welcomed by their rivals who in response formed a crew designed specifically to counter the influence of the Hells Angels. The crew was called “Bullshit MC” and made their home in Christiania, the free town in Copenhagen were the trade in cannabis was tolerated. Bullshit MC grew rich there for a few years and in 1983 decided that the time had come to pay the new Hells Angels chapter a “visit”.

That visit started a war lasting for two years and four months. Eight members of Bullshit MC (of which three were presidents), one Hells Angels member and two civilians lost their lives during the violent shootouts. Bullshit MC was blamed for the loss of civilian life and when the police raided their club house they found a corpse buried underneath the floor. The Hells Angels had emerged victorious… but they would soon meet new resistance.

Dead presidents.

Dead presidents.

The Black Madonna 24: Decree 770

In 1967 the Romanian Communist Party, under Nicolae Ceaușescu, issued Decree 770. The decree banned abortion in all but a few cases and banned contraception. The goal was to counter the drop in births that had begun as a result of the high female labor participation and liberal abortion policies. Sex education was even changed to focus on the benefits of motherhood, mothers bearing many children being seen as heroes.

The economy was extremely weak and poverty widespread however, leaving poor families unable to provide for themselves and illegal abortion as the only way out. The use of primitive methods thus increased sharply, leading to many cases of sterility, infection and even death.

Many children were also abandoned, and ended up in orphanages where conditions could be truly horrid. The children would be tied down to their beds or by their own clothing. Often the children would be left naked, sitting in their own urine because the staff had failed to put clothes on them. The mostly untrained staff was encouraged to discipline the children by hitting them, and through this the older children learnt to the beat the younger.

We were all children once.

We were all children once.

The Black Madonna 23: Fear City

The 70’s was a dark time for New York. The economic recession had devastated the city’s industrial sector and in just five years it had lost over 500,000 manufacturing jobs. Unemployment soared and a million households ended up having to rely on welfare.

With the social turmoil of the 60’s having led the middle class to flee the city for the suburbs, New York was now running out of funds and was forced to make substantial budget cuts. Among the areas cut the hardest was law enforcement.

These two factors combined led to rapes and burglaries tripling, car thefts and felony assaults doubling and murders going up from 700 a year to almost 1700.

This was Fear City.

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The Black Madonna 22: GRU

Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye, GRU, the Main Intelligence Directorate is Russia's most powerful intelligence agency. It deploys large numbers of agents across the world and also commands the Spetsnaz GRU, Russia's elite forces.

According to a GRU defector, the organization have completely infiltrated the United States; to the extent that there are arms caches and miniaturized tactical nukes, suitcase bombs, lying in wait for the inevitable confrontation. GRU assassination teams would use these weapons to take out the US leadership during the first days of the war.

The world is your playground.

The world is your playground.

The Black Madonna 21: Coup d'état

On August 19th 1991, hardliners within the Communist party, backed by the KGB, attempted to seize control of the Soviet government. They were opposed to the reforms and decentralization of power, from Moscow to the republics, that had been launched by Gorbachev.

Armored units and paratroops descended upon Moscow, TV and radio stations were occupied and the KGB arrested a number of key deputies. However, the conspirators made one fatal mistake by failing to arrest Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

Over the coming days he ended up leading civil resistance against the coup from outside the parliament building. KGB spetsnaz forces from Alpha and Vympel were set to storm the parliament building on August 20th as part of “Operation Grom”,  but by that point Yeltsin had already secured the support of both the public and the military. The attack was called off and the coup failed, further accelerating the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Resistance.

Resistance.