Warhammer 40K fans: What do you like about it?

I’ve played a couple of the games and read some of the books, and I’m honestly curious: what do others like about its universe? I mean, it’s sooo depressing. I’m not trying to sound hypocritical, I’m not even sure why I like it, but I do (I’d love to be a Space Marine, even though I think it would kill a lot of my personality and thus would not be as fun). I’d like to hear other viewpoints.

I wouldn’t exactly say I’ma fan. However, I love the comedy aspect. To wit: the entire universe is so absolutely ridiculously GRIMDARK that it instantly becomes its own parody. They tried to make it so serious it actively comes out the other side of absolute hilarity.

It doesn’t have to suck, just stop listening to the idiots who have a hard-on for making things “grimdark” above all else. The galaxy’s a big place, there’s more than enough room for life to not suck in general even with the war waging on the strategic level.

Depressing ? Maybe it changed since my glory days (oh, how I miss you, my sweet Escher gang…) but it’s very much a comedy setting, albeit in a British gallows humour sort of way.

Everything in it is so deliberately over the top bleak that it veers back into humorous. Space Marines are luddite indoctrinated Nazi shitheads ; Eldars are the dickiest dicks to ever pull a prescient dick move ; Chaos is utterly self-destructive and repulsive but still manages to seduce everyone and their mothers (seriously, why would anyone ever worship *Nurgle *?) ; Orks live to fight to live to fight and are pretty much viral Glaswegian footie fans ; the Imperial Guard loses a million billion men every single day and still finds the time to shoot their own for good measure ; Tyranids eat entire planets like they’re bar peanuts… nothing makes any sense, everything is a 14 year old’s idea of “cor, brill !” or “whoa, hardcore !”, the sense of scale is fucked every which way - how can you take anything about WH40K for serious ? The writers sure don’t (or at least, didn’t - again, maybe that has evolved over time).

The idea of a quaint little planet untouched by war is against the spirit of the setting… unless it’s a quaint little planet untouched by war that’s about to get devoured by some space leviathan. Then I’d be OK with it.

It’s so metal!

I love Warhammer (both Fantasy and 40k). 40k is a lot like Starship Troopers (the film) and that’s what’s fucking awesome about it. There are a bunch of fanboys out there that like to argue which faction is more or less evil than the others. Really, every single faction is fucked up. The Tau used to be seen as kind of good guys, turns out they practice mind control on their subjects. Oops!

You said you played some of the games. I assume that means you’ve played some of the videogames. If that’s the case, you need to go out right this moment and get involved with the tabletop game. Things are so much delightfully worse. Just don’t be another Space Marine player, we’ve more than filled up the thousand chapters.

40k does nothing for me but Warhammer Fantasy is still enjoyable. Wish they stuck a little closer to continuity but still fun.

I know the setting mostly from reading about it on TVTropes, but I must say that I’ve enjoyed reading about it. It’s hilarious how everything is dialed up to 11. I imagine that it could be a great setting for a not-so-serious tabletop RPG campaign.

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How can you not get a kick out of this?

I have never played a game of either Warhammer franchises, but I have read some of the books on and off for over a decade now. I like the setting, the humour, the factions, and some of the aesthetics. The GRIMDARK aspect of it borders parody, and sometimes goes over the line.

However, I do not like most of Games Workshop’s business practices, and what seems to be their design philosophy that a balanced, or even not so random, game cannot equal a fun game.

There’s something like six different RPG’s for it, although at least four use the same basic system.

Yeah, I’d probably be Chaos Marines. They seem to have a lot more fun out of life.

Tabletop? Try it as a LARP.

My only experiences in the 40K universe have been LARPs. You think it’s a crazy tabletop system, it takes on a whole new level of ridiculous over-the-topness as a LARP.

Last time I played was at GenCon this year, and it was a replay of the first 40K LARP I had played. This time Liz and I played “off-book” characters. (I.e. we were extras rather than ones actually designed for the LARP.) A friend of ours (who we actually met in the first running of this LARP) was playing an on-book Ork. Liz, another guy, and I joined him as team Ork, and Liz and I played essentially Siamese Orks. My Mad Doctor Ork had gotten it into his head that it’d be a great thing to sew himself and his lab assistant together and make an uber-ork (of sorts). So we spent the whole LARP with two of our legs bound together with belts to simulate the connected aspect. And team ork went around making annoyances of themselves and trying to fight everybody, because, well, that’s what Orks do. Good times.

I played a WH40K murder party once. It was awesome, and insane.

“So… can the Commissar examine the body ?”
“But don’t you want to find out who or what killed him ? The culprit might still be on board !”
“… all right then, have a good litany space marines !”

(I played a Tech Priest. Many a Ritual of Percussive Maintenance was performed.)

The Warhammer Fantasy one was pretty fun too. Not one straight guy in the whole gorram castle - traitors, chaos cultists, skaven agents, necromancers, dealers in stolen dwarven artifacts… In the end, my co-conspirators and I “won”, but only because we managed to use stolen warp stone to blow up reality and summon a Lord of Change to kill everything (ourselves included) seconds before the traitors could open the castle’s gate to let the besieging orc army in.
Nobody found out who the murderer was, or really much cared for that matter since as it turns out about half the attendants had *attempted *the murder that fateful night, only to find the victim already dead (and the successful attempt only succeeded because the victim had been poisoned before) :D.

WORDVOMIT HO! The RPGs are my thing, though I do have love for the lore in general as well.

Going to spoilerbox my blarg about the RPGs if anyone’s interested in them.

[spoiler]All of the Warhammer 40k RPGs use d10/100 (percentile) dice systems. You have stats of a certain value out of 100, you roll a d100 against those stats and if you roll under your skill then hooray, you passed. There’s degrees of success or failure for every 10 points you get under (or over) your skill for, and certain skills can be bumped over 100 with various modifiers. In which case it’s an auto-pass, but you roll to see how many degrees of success (DOS) you have, which dictates exactly how well you do something (just passing vs I AM LIKE UNTO A GOD). The core systems are all pretty much the same, with a few tweaks for the newer games, and the combat revamped a bit in Black Crusade.

There’s Dark Heresy, which is players at a very low level. You start off as off-the-street people press-ganged into the service of an Inquisitor to investigate Heresy, witchcraft, daemons and cults primarily in the Hive City Sibellus, on the planet Scintilla in the Calixis Sector. This is very much “You meet in a tavern and a tall, dark, mysterious stranger offers you a choice - do my work, or prepare to be purged with fire”. It’s the first sanctioned P&P-only RPG in the 40k Universe, and was released by Black Industries, which I believe was affiliated with the Black Library before it all became too much hard work. Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) took over the license and produced further expansions. It’s a fun game, but you feel like a very small cog in a very monstrous machine, and you see the underside of the Imperium in a very close and personal way (We found a rogue techpriest who was turning gutter-people into Soylent Pink, and using unsanctioned heretek to create murder-servitors. My arbite took a shotgun to the face then later was possessed by a Daemon and mind-raped by a sanctioned psyker to make sure her brain-goo was intact for debriefing. Fun times!)

Then there was an expanded ruleset for DH released, called Dark Heresy Ascension. Your acolytes are able to level up through the ranks of Interrogator and eventually to full Inquisitor (if they survive). This, however, is almost universally regarded as broken, because it was created before Space Marines were really considered being made available as PCs, and you can end up with an unaugmented human who’s powerful enough to take down an Astartes.

Next came Rogue Trader. This is the game I run. Somewhere between DH and I believe Ascension, Black Industries either folded or just gave the fuck up. The Warhammer 40k RP license was sold to FFG, who now produce all Warhammer 40k RPGs, the Warhammer Fantasy RPG and a few CCGs like the Horus Heresy game. Rogue Trader is The British East India Company in Space. Your players are members of (and sometimes the Captain of) a crew of Imperially-Sanctioned space explorers, plunging into the unexplored or forgotten expanses of the galaxy, bringing back rare treasures, setting up trade routes and colonies and melting the faces off of any Xenos who dare show what passes for a face in their path. I run a game with two players, because 40k-oriented people who aren’t just TT crunch-heads are thin on the ground in these parts. There is Lord-Captain Darrius Duperre, who is the holder of a Warrant of Trade of exploration, and the owner of a light cruiser, the Righteous Endeavour. He is Nobility. He’s from money, he’s got assets that span multiple planets in multiple star systems, is from a Naval background and has 5000 men-at-arms under his personal command. The other player is the Seneschal, Steinar Martel. Long-term servant of the Duperre dynasty, he’s your fixer - the Shadow Broker from Mass Effect if he was employed by an oft-drunk Old English English Colonial Explorer for his personal gain.

RT is very much a grand exploring game. Your actions don’t just affect your local environment, it can have consequences that span a fraction of the galaxy. My players are currently embroiled in a burgeoning Inquisitor War, in which they’ve been implicated in consorting with unsanctioned psykers and destruction of a Standard Template Construct (which is a Very Big Deal to a lot of people). They own two star systems, have a personal relationship with a Lady Inquisitor, have destroyed another Rogue Trader’s house, have returned a personally signed relic of Rogal Dorn back to the Imperial Fists, made firm trade connections with the Adeptus Mechanicus and killed an ancient Xenos menace. They have trading concerns on over a dozen planets and are vital to the political and social landscape of the Calixis Sector’s primary planet, Scintilla (mentioned above). This is not a game of “You don’t have gold for that” it’s a game of “How many planets are you going to sell to get that?”. My Lord-Captain is an awesome sort, because he very much plays the swashbuckling hero who leads from the front of his platoon of men, but it’s also a game where you can go “I have a problem. Send a few thousand men to sort it out”. He’s also got Charisma out the wazoo and managed to get 10 degrees of success on an attempt to seduce a Sister of Battle. I’m still trying to figure out how he managed to do that.

It’s the first game I’ve ever GMed, and some would say it’s one of the most difficult, because you’ve got characters who are intended to be obscenely powerful and wealthy, so you’ve got to be creative to keep them in line. But we’ve been playing for over a year now, and I’ve got both of my players begging for games, so I’m apparently doing something right.

Next in line was Deathwatch. This is the game a lot of the fanboys had been waiting for. You get to play a Space Marine. The Adeptus Astartes, the Emperor’s Angels of Death. You are a monster in power armour, post-human examples of the pinnacle of the Emperor’s achievements. I adore this game as a player. But it also seems to be the hardest for a lot of people to get into. Many female gamers seem to have an issue with the fact that Lore-Wise, Space Marines are only male. I’m the only woman in my gaming social circle who is willing to play a Space Marine and enjoy it for what it is - absolute carnage and joy in the same, with no real concern about boy vs girl (I play a Space Wolf Assault Marine. He’s a little bit mental, and for some reason whenever the GM rolls a random sniper attack on us, Magni always catches the bullet in the head). The other problem with it is that it’s very easy to fall into the trap of “HIT IT UNTIL IT STOPS MOVING” and it takes a good GM to guide the game through combat and also bring in aspects of actual roleplaying and social interaction as well.

Whereas in RT you are powerful because of your financial and military might (Ships, armies at your beck and call), in DW you’re powerful because you’re a genetically engineered superman. You’re designed to be a weapon in your own right, and when the bolter shells run out you head on in with Chainsword and your own two fists to rip the gonads out of whatever you’re facing (or in Magni’s case, fuck the Bolter and dual-wield chainswords up in Hive Tyrant’s faces!). Most of the Roleplaying is built around the fact that you’re playing Space Marines from (often) wildly differing chapters, and learning how to interact as a unit when your personal ethos may be vastly opposed can be quite challenging. Then there’s the interactions between unaugmented humans and these men who are whispered about as Gods. Most Imperial citizens have never seen, let alone met a Space Marine, so learning to interact with the small, squishy people is also fun if you let it be.

Black Crusade was released… early this year? Late last year? Recently in any case. This ruleset includes the first major overhaul of the combat system, though the basic game is still the same (d10/100, DOS-based). So-named for the Chaos “Black Crusades” that are sallied forth from the realm of the Warp into the Imperium and real space, you play a Chaos follower of some stripe - it has rules set up to allow for Chaos Space Marines as well as more standard cultists, Hereteks and warp-followers. You choose your Chaos God and do works in his name. If he’s pleased with your raping, pillaging and general buggery in his name, you may ascend to Daemonhood or even becoming a Daemon Prince. If he’s unhappy with you, you may mutate into a mindless Chaos Spawn. If he’s happy with you, you may still mutate into a mindless Chaos Spawn. The Chaos Gods are dicks that way.

I don’t have any personal experience with BC, though we have houseruled some of the improved combat into our DW and RT games, as the rules for single/multiple/auto shooting and hand-to-hand combat are a bit more refined.

In the pipeline is Only War. FFG website says Q4 2012, but then Koronus Bestiary (an expansion for RT) was delayed by nearly 6 months at one point, so who knows when the whole new game is going to come out. I don’t know much about Only War, beyond that it’s based around the Imperial Guard, so I anticipate it’s going to be a lot more about mass combat, possibly a few key officers within the IG who command men and fight battles alongside them.

We play our games as lighthearted seriousness. So there’s a bit of silliness, but then there’s srsbizness when the story calls for it. It’s not all stupid all the time, but there’s definitely a lot of humour there.[/spoiler]

Why do I love the setting? I’m not entirely sure why. I’ve always had a fondness for Space Opera, Cyberpunk and dystopian themes. There’s a combination of absolute horror at the darkness, the obscene scale of the thing, as well as the lighter sides and the OTT silliness that comes along sometimes.

I’m a very big fan of the Black Library novelisations as well. It’s so far out of the realm of possible as to be fantastical, without the standard fantasy tropes of noble elves and wise dragons and also encompassing huge guns, massive walking machines and starships larger than the city I live in. There’s aspects of Lovecraftian horror in the Chaos Gods and denizens of the warp, but at the same time there’s the horror of what man can do to himself - the grinding oppression of a massive bureaucracy and of how much it can stagnate the society around it.

Like any franchised story setting, there’s the mediocre and the downright bad (CS Goto, I’m looking at you) but then there’s the sublime and hugely powerful stories. Dan Abnett and Graham McNeill are two of my favourite 40k authors, and DAbnett in particular has some decent chops in the form of credits for various comic book and other military fiction series. Both have written stories in the 40k setting that are not just entertaining military/sci-fi stories, but that have actually touched me enough to get an emotional response.

I don’t like GW’s business practices, which is part of why I haven’t played the TT in many years. That and I’m just not really numbers-oriented. The RPGs are about as much dice-throwing that I want to get into. Though I would like to paint the minis again, if I could find a source that was able to ship locally without incurring GW’s “Fuck you for daring not be in England” markup.

Also, Kobal that 40k Murder-Party sounds like a hoot and a half. I’d love to do that if we could find more RP-oriented people who were also 40k nerds locally. As does Team Ork, Hoopy Frood :slight_smile:

As to why anyone would ever worship Nurgle? Papa Nurgle loves all His children. Embrace His love and you will live Forever. He’s the only God who truly cares. Sure, a few appendages might drop off and you’ll smell like the south end of a northbound Grox, but Papa Nurgle doesn’t judge. Baby, you were Spawned This Way.

Might look into… Forge World I think they’re called ? The main third-party, GW licensed mini makers.
They’re somewhat cheaper than “real” GW minis, the shipping charges are somewhat expensive but not really location dependent, and they cover a whole range of truly insane stuff GW won’t touch to boot (want a 40K-scale Reaver Titan ? That can be arranged).


I never played the RPG’s, but I like (in small doses) the gothic/horror vibes found in the novels.

I read the Omnibus’ about the Space Wolf marine chapter, and the Grey Knights Omnibus. I like the details given about some of the inner workings of these Chapters. (Planting the gene-seeds into recruits, for instance, is shown to be both a religious as well as a scientific undertaking.)

But the universe seems pretty dark. I don’t know how these warriors, who must face warfare of a most brutal nature, stay sane.

In the Imperium all tech is religious in nature. Imperial agents were mystified that orks were capable of using the lasguns of fallen guardsmen (of course, they were even more mystified when they discovered some of these weapons were lacking magazines, damaged beyond repair, etc… has anyone mentioned orks all possess latent psychic power?).

That’s an easy one: They don’t.

What I meant about the scientific portion of the gene splicing was, the Wolf Chapter Priests all knew conventional gene theory, and would be able to map an applicants genes out, and they also knew what gene seeds did as they mutated the host. But they also prayed.

Of course, the gods of The Warp were actual manifested entities (possibly given life by the psyches of trillions of believers affecting the Warp), so religion is not surprising.
Some of the imagery of the Grey Knight Omnibus stuck. I still have “nightmares” of a scene the author described: In some gladitorial arena on some planet in “The Eye”, the hero is tossed in to fight monsters (along with a couple hundred other slave-sacrifices). One was a large wormlike creature (that reminded me of the Chtorr). The worm swallows folks whole. The hero got close enough he could hear the screams of previous victims as they were being digested.


Yeah, if I do get back into mini painting then Forge World are definitely on my list especially as I’m not really into it for the TT. But even without GW’s “fuck you” pricing structure, they’re still not really cheap. And I’d really rather not fuck up a FW mini until I’ve spent some serious time painting chaff. I haven’t painted in years.

What I really need to do is find someone who’s flogging a job lot of unpainted or primed-only minis on ebay or something, then go from there and get some practice in.

We’re also planning for a Deathwatch mission in a few weeks, so I’m madly spending XP that got left at the culmination of our last campaign, and trying to convince the GM that my Space Wolf should be able to use his sense of smell (Awareness 62) for tracking instead of his Intelligence (INT 38). Rumour has it we’re going to be up against the little blue weeaboo fucks, so it’s going to be Magni’s time to shine :smiley: