Spook

Typical consequences of moderate spook abuse. Background: Preparations for a ceremony by a suspected Slaaneshi coven. Not pictured: Slaanesh preparing to dine on the young man's soul.

"Spook for the spook God!"

– Probably this motherfucker, associate of an infamous Slaaneshi warband but also alleged inquisitorial field agent.

Spook is a highly illegal warp-infused psychoactive drug in the Warhammer 40k universe, in most fluff originating in Necromunda, the exact type of substance it is derived from being inconsistent, perhaps because Orlock doesn't want you to know—ranging from decayed corpse starch to a fungus growing, both found deep in the Underhive. The different sources agree on it's ultimate origin being something that harvested (and thus a resource connected to territory controlled by gangs) rather than made from scratch or synthesized, though, meaning limited supply and big demand meaning good money for the organizations supplying it. House Orlock is mentioned as controlling a lot of the trade but there are hints that there is a sort of spook cartel that goes all the way up to the upper hive spires.

Spook is often but not always described as addictive, and is as you might expect dangerous due to it's connection with the sea of souls and with chaos. It can do anything from heighten psychedelic abilities to turn one into a flibertigibbet-thingamajig. It is nonetheless popular, however, both as a recreational drug and a tool for upping a wyrd's powerlevel—it can give a boost to unsanctioned psykers but at the cost of increased chance of things going very wrong. Very, very wrong. It's also a lucrative smuggled good, and the business apparently going from very low to very high on the Necromundan socioeconomic totem pole.

Depending on which source you're reading it is found as a "speck," fungus, lichen, or powder, harvested somehow, and generally described (when it is described at all) as a liquid.

Low doses give users a feeling of connection to the universe, maaaan. Higher more dangerous doses, which do much the same, only more so, and are likely to attract the attention of others, are also sometimes used by rogue psykers going into battle or as a part of cult rituals or generally in search deeper embrace with warpish and chaotic things. Navigators have been known to use them for both divination and recreation. This, as mentioned before, might reasonably be expected to go poorly.

It seems that, while open usage might very well get the Inquisition involved given the risks, every strata of Necromundan society is permeated with the stuff. Lowly scavvies find it in the wild, underhive gangs (particularly those associated with the Orlocks, apparently) cultivate it on an organized basis, crime syndicates distribute it and ship it off world, hedonistic and indolent uphivers enjoy it's dubious pleasures, Chaos cults promote and practice it's use, ordinary Joes seek some distraction from 20 hour workdays and constant violence, and so on down the line.

Even House Helmawr, rulers of Hive Primus and the very world itself, are rumored to have a hand in the trade; some go so far as to say the trade may be essential to maintaining their stranglehold on power. Regardless, both on-planet and in the rest of Imperial space, the stuff is in high demand which seems to be met with high volume, and it can present a significant problem where it pops up.

Contents

UsersEdit

Spook apparently is native to Necromunda but is said to be exported and available throughout the Imperium but it's prevalence very likely varies depending on place and time. This necessarily implies that the amount available on Necromunda is huge, or that it is not, in fact, unique to Necromunda. If the sources which connect it with dead bodies are true, this not only provides a suitably Grimdark explanation for it's fairly easy availability—one reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson's totally fictional accounts of abusing "adrenochrome" (a real substance, but without any psychoactive activity, but which Thompson alleges he abused as a drug that was obtained from someone somewhere down the line who extracted it from a corpse)—but would explain it's connection with the Warp: the Warp being the raw stuff of souls and all, it is not unreasonable to imagine that distilled essences of brains and suchlike might carry a bit (think of some of the less pleasant superpowers of the Space Marines.) Leads one to ponder if spook is derived from the brain, and what would happen if the guy you hit up for your spook fix had just pulped some α+ psyker tier cortex. Nothing good, probably, but you might at least get an interesting light show on the way out.

Spook abusers may be found in all strata of Necromundan society, as it offers an escape from a bleak reality, if only for a little while (2-4 hours according to most fluff. It doesn't seem to leave the user with an immediate craving for more of the horrible stuff like, say, crack, nor to lead to actual withdrawal symptoms as such like heroin—which has a direct 40K equivalent, obscurabut, most likely, the spook comedown leads to that the-world-is-hollow-and-I-have-touched-the-sky feeling that leads modern day bourgeois college students to stop combing their hair and going to class and start hanging out in dark corners of concert venue parking lots after going to a music festival or two during summer break. Problem being, 40k being 40k, it's more Marius Vairosean and less Jerry Garcia.)

One assumes the quality of the spook involved varies from uphive to downhive. Whether this alters the risks of becoming daemon chown, something "spooky" or playing host to a Warp being who lets you explore your newfound powers before raping your soul to death is unclear, but it probably doeswho am I kidding Chaos is probably just a bit more clever when it winnows its way into a more useful vessel...and even Slaanesh can be subtle in these ways, just like their IRL equivalent, hippies—you'll go to a concert, just to check out the music, God knows slonking marijuanagangweed's pretty socially acceptable, and some (mostly 60s relics and the kind of professors that sleep with their students) pseudo-intellectual types like to talk about tripping to expand your mind, so, yeah, get together and put on a record of the MaharashiMaraviglia and tune in, turn on, drop out!

So, who takes this horrible stuff?Edit

  • Various cults, not just Slaaneshi hedonists, but Tzeentch-worshipping sorcerers looking for a power boost, too, and your general capital-C Chaos freaks, for the connection to the warp and all. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing for Khorne (who's too straightforward for trippy shit, plus there's some shit literally named Slaught and too many combat stimms to name ... Spook isn't a RIP AND TEAR drug in any sense other than what it's doing to your consciousness, and, well, don't get too far out their, maaaaaan) Nurgle either...too apathetic, he's probably more of a gladstone and obscura type guy.
  • Guardsmen aplenty, it seems, to expected results. One would think that only war in the grim darkness of the far future would be a pretty bad "set and setting" as the nice couple over at Erowid would put it, but remind yourself that taking acid was a big thing in 'Nam', and that the Imperial Guard actually has a fair bit of downtime when not getting krumped/nommed/shooteyed/whatever...Abnett goes into a decent bit about the black market in war zones and in transit for the IG in his Gaunt's Ghosts books, it's easy to imagine spook on offer there (although he doesn't mention it—Necromunda is on the other side of the galaxy though.) Speaking of transit, needless to say, use during warp travel is likely to have unforeseen consequences, even with the Gellar field on.

/tg/-notable Spook enthusiastsEdit

  • Dominique, of TTS fame, despite being an inquisitorial scribe, apparently indulged, comparing a surreal situation do "doing the spook."
  • Probably Cultist-chan. She wants to hang out and thripp owwt whith yhoo for kay-oss.

DangersEdit

Spook, however, is pretty serious business as it runs the risk of, as IRL hippies would put it, allowing spiritual entities a way in to spread enlightenment in the hive. There is one story about a down-on-his-luck bounty hunter sent by a powerful ganger to whom he owes money to poison some "scavvy king"—unfortunately for him, the poison is spook, he has to partake, and winds up getting possessed for his trouble. At least he gets to RIP AND TEAR both the degenerate mutants and the gangers who were trying to put the squeeze on him for his trouble. But damn.

Spook IRLEdit

Common storage device for Spook on Terra, ca. 980.M2 to early M3.
Spook is generally imagined as a sort of warp infused super-LSD or 'shrooms (which have IRL connection to plants and fungi) or perhaps Ayahuasca or it's derivative DMT (which, even more than the other two, can make you feel as if you have warp powers.) All three can lead you to act batshit insane on occasion both acutely and chronically. Being distributed by chaos cults is pretty true to real life, except for instead of doing strange Lovecraftian rituals in dark places they typically found dancing to strange music outdoors. Slaanesh would probably still approve though. There are really stories of very weird stuff happening when people get into situations with occult shit going on and using these drugs, particularly off in the woods at hardcore hippie festivals or even in the jungles of Peru. This is actually not at all a joke or something to be taken light-heartedly; although somewhat less grimdark than in 40K, our version of spook can cause real psychological and spiritual problems. Some people actually believe that they are in contact with something not unlike the warp, but usually less grimdark, until it isn't. Their usual destination is wandering around from festival to festival begging for a swill of your beer, or the mental hospital, or prison.

More reasonable amounts of and approaches to these of these kinds of drugs in real life is probably more common amongst fa/tg/uys than the general population, as among creative types in general, but is not generally considered a topic for general polite discussion in /tg/-related circles. In the 80's D&D moral panic era there was definitely an association between D&D and drug use (especially gangweedmarijuana.)

There is more information about this kind of stuff online than you could ever want to know, most of it overwhelmingly biased in favor of praising it's virtues and downplaying the risks. Caveat emptor.

It is also worth noting how edgy talking about drugs in a fictional sci-fi setting for a game was in 1995. None other than Rick Priestley talks about this here.

As Source MaterialEdit

If you're running a Dark Heresy campaign or something and want to get into this territory, check out some of the obvious: Hunter S. Thompson, Philip K. Dick, some of the more wild stuff would include Terrence McKenna for one, people involved with the ayahuasca and DMT scenes, enthusiasts of so-called "research chemicals" and just random shit you read online (there's a whole subculture out there that posts painstakingly detailed accounts of their drug experiences for others to read. Erowid and Bluelight are probably the most prestigious and prolific. Alarmingly so...) And ask anyone you know who goes to hippie concerts about the creepiest people they've met there. If you aren't familiar with the scene, parts of it are actually really, really grimdark. And one of those few things that you can't really read a whole lot about online. It's a strange, insular, kind of cult-like world that if you know about could actually really inspire a good backdrop for a campaign in more than one RPG; turning it into a Slaaneshi coven for Dark Heresy is only the most obvious example.

See AlsoEdit

  • Drugs
  • There are a number of other warp-infused drugs going around, including flects, which play a key plot point in the Ravenor books while the titular inquisitor is running acting like a grimdark DEA agent at the time (these particular recreations being so dangerous as to warrant bypassing the local authorities and Arbites ... and, as we learn in the novels, for good reason.) Similar but distinct is the seemingly milder gladstones. Gladstones are described as "psycho-reactive" and kind of like maybe taking half a roll and listening to some chill trance music; flects on the other hand are literally imbued with a reflection of the Eye of Terror and are probably the equivalent of a one-year intake by a poster on Bluelight. They are described as either pure joy or abject terror with a chance of daemons, and make spook look soft. All of these, however, due to their connection with the Warp, are likely to attract the attention of the Man (even the Man behind the Man) far quicker than that of more mundane intoxicants such as grinweed or obscura.
  • Another rather disturbing another drug harvested on Necromunda is icrotic slime, which is apparently actually some sort of brain eating amoeba that beyond some point of no return will basically reduce you into a zombie, and you'll be too blissed out to unplug (better bring a trip sitter!) Whether this has anything to do with the Warp isn't really clear (but you can probably make some assumptions), but it's suitably Grimdark.