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Dark Heresy/Deathwatch/Black Crusade/etc books

Deathwatch Dark Heresy Fantasy Flight Games RPG Black Crusade books

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#1
Midgard

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I have a bit of a dilemma. I ended up with $100 worth of Amazon gift cards, and am looking to spend them on something 40k-related. I could not find Forge World miniatures on Amazon, am mostly caught up on Horus Heresy series, and have way too many miniatures requiring assembly and paint to consider buying more... but after talking with a friend who runs a Black Crusade gaming group (unfortunately rather far away from me), I became interested in buying some of the RPG books from Fantasy Flight Games - Dark Heresy, Deathwatch, Black Crusade, and their innumerable spinoffs and supplements.

 

So, this is where I would like to ask for community assistance. I am interested in getting some of the RPG source books, but not sure where would be the best place to start. I doubt I will actually get much gaming in (lack of time, no gaming group in the area that I am aware of), so my ideal starting point would be heavy on background/fluff (yet still enough to actually run or participate in a campaign if I were to ever get an opportunity to do so).

 

From the background/story side of things, I would naturally have interest in power-armored factions (being at B&C and all ;) ), and much less interest in IG/Rogue Traders. The Inquisition would be another interesting area for storyline/campaign theme purposes, and would probably be on my radar.

 

Since each core rulebook seems to be in the vicinity of $50, it seems that my options would be limited to either two corebooks, or, perhaps, a rulebook, a supplement (or two), and maybe something else. What would you suggest as a good starting point with the $100 budget? Thanks in advance!


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#2
blackoption

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As someone who has most of those books.  My first question for you is what kind of game are you interested in starting? I know you mentioned power armor factions, but there are still a few options available.

 

For a Deathwatch game: Start with the Deathwatch Core book and supplement rites of battle.

For a Chaos game: Start with the Black Crusade Core book and a supplement for one of the chaos gods (order intended by authors is Tzeentch, Khorne, Slannesh, and then Nurgle for late game ideas)

For a Grey Knights game: Start with the Deathwatch Core book, then get Daemon Hunter (Dark Heresy product line).

 

 

I've run a number of different campaigns and I can tell you about the system for each. But the basic run down is this: Deathwatch has some power gaming issues, though I have found ways to moderate that.  I prefer the combat rules of Black Crusade/Only war myself.  Though not identical, Deathwatch's power issues can be fixed through use of Black Crusades/Only War's rules on Astartes.



#3
Midgard

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I would say that my chances of actually getting a campaign going in the near future are pretty nil, but if I were to ever get to it, I would be more interested in a campaign heavy on the story and atmosphere. I don't have a lot of experience with PnP RPGs, but would rather tell/play through a story than through a mindless XP-grind. As such, I hope that my first book (or books) would have a lot of relevant fluff/background which may inspire my 40K gaming and entertain. In other words, a good starting point to get a feel for the system (without getting overly complicated), but also to supply additional background for the 40K setting (and hopefully heavy on that background).


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#4
Teetengee

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if you want a lot of setting, don't do marines...

Dark Heresy is probably best for atmosphere

(Grain of salt, although I play a lot of rpgs and know people who play these, I haven't actually played them myself, though I have looked into it.)


My Chaos WIP Thread (Bigger Pics and Foul Xenos offsite) Hall of Honour, My Storm Reavers (DIY SM Chapter) Story, My Chaos 7.5 Homebrew Codex Thread
In us burns a fire for vengeance that will only be quenched when we stand triumphant over the smoldering ruins of Terra. Our laughter on that day will haunt their survivors till the end of time. We will stride forth victorious through the shattered gates of their fortress, holding high aloft the defiled corpse of their rotting god as our prize.
Wulfkry, on 02 Jul 2013 - 3:38 PM, said: So an inquisitor is receiving SM implants using GK geneseed stolen off the fields of armageddon interesting..
Captain Semper, on 29 May 2015 - 4:10 AM, said: There is crazy and there is Teetengee crazy... ph34r.pngnuke.gif

Warsmith Aznable, on 30 Jan 2016 - 01:16 AM, said: 13. Teetengee wrote "Warp Born" and I won't even go into how disturbing the subject matter was.
The Psycho, on 26 Apr 2016 - 10:50 PM, said: That's either really disturbing or really cute, I haven't quite made up my mind yet.

gallery_48988_15465_38466.pngR9n4SPM.pngCall_of_Chaos_9_Medal_02.gifsml_gallery_29004_12090_4775.pngETL_Medal_04.giffriday-award.pngx9we_badge_teetengee.pnggallery_29004_10514_2007.jpggallery_29004_10514_234.jpggallery_48988_6285_1348.png

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#5
Jareddm

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if you want a lot of setting, don't do marines...

Or get a better GM and group...


As for the topic at hand, if you're sure that you won't be doing any actual gaming with them and are more interested in lore, your best bet would be any of the following:
Disciples of the Dark God's
Radical's Handbook
Blood of the Martyr
Creatures Anathema
Hostile Acquisitions
The Navis Primer
The Achilus Crusade
The Jericho Reach
The Outer Reach
All four of the "Tome of..." books

Rites of Battle, Inquisitor's Handbook and the other "player's handbook" style books may get all the praise and are of great use for adding new options, but they have very little in the way interesting lore. That said, the core rulebook of all five systems introduce interesting settings that do a good job of adding a great deal to the greater 40k setting.

Edited by Jareddm, 31 December 2015 - 05:18 AM.


#6
Midgard

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Thank you guys for your feedback! I ended up ordering Dark Heresy 2.0 rulebook and Deathwatch rulebook as something of a start - and if I like what I see, I would be willing to order a number more of the "fluff"/expansion books (especially if, by some miracle, I find a gaming group within reasonable distance of me, or manage to get my better half interested after years of... lukewarm interest at best).


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#7
Teetengee

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if you want a lot of setting, don't do marines...

Or get a better GM and group...


-snip-

Ish? I'm not saying you can't have a lot of fun in the setting with a deathwatch game, but the allure of the setting, the atmosphere of it, is at its core a horror environment, and the biggest problem with horror rpgs is competency. Competent and resilient pcs are inherently problematic in a horror setting, because their competency limits how much the players can really fear for their characters. Space marines are highly competent and incredibly resilient, which goes against both the general horror principle and which lessens the death is cheap/common feel of the universe. Additionally, marines just don't interact on many levels with much of the setting, they are fighters not investigators in their central motifs.


Edited by Teetengee, 31 December 2015 - 01:40 PM.

My Chaos WIP Thread (Bigger Pics and Foul Xenos offsite) Hall of Honour, My Storm Reavers (DIY SM Chapter) Story, My Chaos 7.5 Homebrew Codex Thread
In us burns a fire for vengeance that will only be quenched when we stand triumphant over the smoldering ruins of Terra. Our laughter on that day will haunt their survivors till the end of time. We will stride forth victorious through the shattered gates of their fortress, holding high aloft the defiled corpse of their rotting god as our prize.
Wulfkry, on 02 Jul 2013 - 3:38 PM, said: So an inquisitor is receiving SM implants using GK geneseed stolen off the fields of armageddon interesting..
Captain Semper, on 29 May 2015 - 4:10 AM, said: There is crazy and there is Teetengee crazy... ph34r.pngnuke.gif

Warsmith Aznable, on 30 Jan 2016 - 01:16 AM, said: 13. Teetengee wrote "Warp Born" and I won't even go into how disturbing the subject matter was.
The Psycho, on 26 Apr 2016 - 10:50 PM, said: That's either really disturbing or really cute, I haven't quite made up my mind yet.

gallery_48988_15465_38466.pngR9n4SPM.pngCall_of_Chaos_9_Medal_02.gifsml_gallery_29004_12090_4775.pngETL_Medal_04.giffriday-award.pngx9we_badge_teetengee.pnggallery_29004_10514_2007.jpggallery_29004_10514_234.jpggallery_48988_6285_1348.png

I'm not dead, and I like 8th better than 7th.


#8
Jareddm

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if you want a lot of setting, don't do marines...

Or get a better GM and group...-snip-
Ish? I'm not saying you can't have a lot of fun in the setting with a deathwatch game, but the allure of the setting, the atmosphere of it, is at its core a horror environment, and the biggest problem with horror rpgs is competency. Competent and resilient pcs are inherently problematic in a horror setting, because their competency limits how much the players can really fear for their characters. Space marines are highly competent and incredibly resilient, which goes against both the general horror principle and which lessens the death is cheap/common feel of the universe.

I'm sorry but, what? You know not all of the 40k RPGs are Dark Heresy, right? That they all work on completely different scales where what is terrifying and unknown in a Dark Heresy games may be more run-of-the-mill in a Rogue Trader game. Competency really has nothing to do with it and there's more to fear then just death. If you want horror in a game you can make a horror campaign with a little work. The stats of the characters have nothing to do with it.

Additionally, marines just don't interact on many levels with much of the setting, they are fighters not investigators in their central motifs.

As you mentioned, you don't play the 40k RPGs so I won't hold not being familiar with the individual lines settings against you. I'm sure you're just going by how marines are presented in the rest of the setting. In Deathwatch you're not just marines, you're Deathwatch. More than that you're not just Deathwatch, you're Deathwatch of Watch Fortress Erioch, which is something very different. The Watch Fortress was given the extremely vague task of defending the region from the emergence of the Dark Pattern (separate from the Inquisition), with out knowing who or what that is. That was over 4,000 years ago and the region has been lost, rediscovered, and recolonized since. This makes the Deathwatch the oldest standing Imperial institution in the region by a mile, and during that time they used their vague mandate to expand to a dozen or more Watch Stations as well as get their fingers in to basically everything going on in the region in the name of discovering the Dark Pattern.

You are more than battlefield combatants or lackeys to an Inquisitor, you are representatives of Watch Fortress Erioch, whose high command has made a lot of political friends and enemies with different agendas for the ongoing Achilus Crusade. The difference is unlike Dark Heresy, these are Admirals, Lord Militants, Senior Crusade Administrators, and Astartes Chapter Masters who aren't going to capitulate just because you're marines. If that's too upper scale for you, you have Watch Stations to look after and when one of them goes on alert, a team is sent not just to murder everything in sight, but to determine what actually is going on in the region. Speaking with remote local tribes, combing through ancient ruins, piecing together the story. Investigating, if you will.

My apologies for the off-topic rant.

Edited by Jareddm, 31 December 2015 - 03:46 PM.


#9
Teetengee

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if you want a lot of setting, don't do marines...

Or get a better GM and group...-snip-
Ish? I'm not saying you can't have a lot of fun in the setting with a deathwatch game, but the allure of the setting, the atmosphere of it, is at its core a horror environment, and the biggest problem with horror rpgs is competency. Competent and resilient pcs are inherently problematic in a horror setting, because their competency limits how much the players can really fear for their characters. Space marines are highly competent and incredibly resilient, which goes against both the general horror principle and which lessens the death is cheap/common feel of the universe.

I'm sorry but, what? You know not all of the 40k RPGs are Dark Heresy, right? That they all work on completely different scales where what is terrifying and unknown in a Dark Heresy games may be more run-of-the-mill in a Rogue Trader game. Competency really has nothing to do with it and there's more to fear then just death. If you want horror in a game you can make a horror campaign with a little work. The stats of the characters have nothing to do with it.

Additionally, marines just don't interact on many levels with much of the setting, they are fighters not investigators in their central motifs.

As you mentioned, you don't play the 40k RPGs so I won't hold not being familiar with the individual lines settings against you. I'm sure you're just going by how marines are presented in the rest of the setting. In Deathwatch you're not just marines, you're Deathwatch. More than that you're not just Deathwatch, you're Deathwatch of Watch Fortress Erioch, which is something very different. The Watch Fortress was given the extremely vague task of defending the region from the emergence of the Dark Pattern (separate from the Inquisition), with out knowing who or what that is. That was over 4,000 years ago and the region has been lost, rediscovered, and recolonized since. This makes the Deathwatch the oldest standing Imperial institution in the region by a mile, and during that time they used their vague mandate to expand to a dozen or more Watch Stations as well as get their fingers in to basically everything going on in the region in the name of discovering the Dark Pattern.

You are more than battlefield combatants or lackeys to an Inquisitor, you are representatives of Watch Fortress Erioch, whose high command has made a lot of political friends and enemies with different agendas for the ongoing Achilus Crusade. The difference is unlike Dark Heresy, these are Admirals, Lord Militants, Senior Crusade Administrators, and Astartes Chapter Masters who aren't going to capitulate just because you're marines. If that's too upper scale for you, you have Watch Stations to look after and when one of them goes on alert, a team is sent not just to murder everything in sight, but to determine what actually is going on in the region. Speaking with remote local tribes, combing through ancient ruins, piecing together the story. Investigating, if you will.

My apologies for the off-topic rant.

 

I don't think that you can't have a lot of fun with the setting in a Deathwatch game. I just don't think that it is the game most suited for exploring the atmosphere of the 40k universe, as OP mentioned was a priority here:

 

-snip-I would be more interested in a campaign heavy on the story and atmosphere. -snip-

As for horror, I do a lot of reading on rpg theory, and have run games (including some horror) for many years. Hyper-competent or hyper-resilient pcs impair the ability to fear for them in players. It isn't that achieving that effect is impossible, and as a change of pace, it can actually be more effective to create this feeling by stripping those pcs of powers or equipment. The problem is that if you want to really deal with all the dark aspects of the 40k universe, I don't think a space marine can experience all of that without immersion suffering, at least not on a regular basis. Space marines won't have to deal with uncle john being found out as a mutant, or think about how all these victims could have just as easily been me, because they can't have just as easily been the marine. It isn't that it is impossible to create horror for marines, but you have to increase the stakes, and that limits the game, and more importantly it is just harder than doing it with mostly human protagonists. So, if you are starting at a blank slate (such as OP is) I suggest starting in a setting not dominated by marines.

It isn't the only solution, but I figured I would point out that deathwatch will make certain options more difficult than others.


My Chaos WIP Thread (Bigger Pics and Foul Xenos offsite) Hall of Honour, My Storm Reavers (DIY SM Chapter) Story, My Chaos 7.5 Homebrew Codex Thread
In us burns a fire for vengeance that will only be quenched when we stand triumphant over the smoldering ruins of Terra. Our laughter on that day will haunt their survivors till the end of time. We will stride forth victorious through the shattered gates of their fortress, holding high aloft the defiled corpse of their rotting god as our prize.
Wulfkry, on 02 Jul 2013 - 3:38 PM, said: So an inquisitor is receiving SM implants using GK geneseed stolen off the fields of armageddon interesting..
Captain Semper, on 29 May 2015 - 4:10 AM, said: There is crazy and there is Teetengee crazy... ph34r.pngnuke.gif

Warsmith Aznable, on 30 Jan 2016 - 01:16 AM, said: 13. Teetengee wrote "Warp Born" and I won't even go into how disturbing the subject matter was.
The Psycho, on 26 Apr 2016 - 10:50 PM, said: That's either really disturbing or really cute, I haven't quite made up my mind yet.

gallery_48988_15465_38466.pngR9n4SPM.pngCall_of_Chaos_9_Medal_02.gifsml_gallery_29004_12090_4775.pngETL_Medal_04.giffriday-award.pngx9we_badge_teetengee.pnggallery_29004_10514_2007.jpggallery_29004_10514_234.jpggallery_48988_6285_1348.png

I'm not dead, and I like 8th better than 7th.


#10
Jareddm

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I don't think that you can't have a lot of fun with the setting in a Deathwatch game. I just don't think that it is the game most suited for exploring the atmosphere of the 40k universe, as OP mentioned was a priority here:

-snip-I would be more interested in a campaign heavy on the story and atmosphere. -snip-

As for horror, I do a lot of reading on rpg theory, and have run games (including some horror) for many years. Hyper-competent or hyper-resilient pcs impair the ability to fear for them in players. It isn't that achieving that effect is impossible, and as a change of pace, it can actually be more effective to create this feeling by stripping those pcs of powers or equipment. The problem is that if you want to really deal with all the dark aspects of the 40k universe, I don't think a space marine can experience all of that without immersion suffering, at least not on a regular basis.

 

It isn't the only solution, but I figured I would point out that deathwatch will make certain options more difficult than others.

 

Story and atmosphere is not the same thing as horror, even in 40k.  You say that 40k is at its core a horror environment.  I disagree with that on a fundamental level.  I would describe it as baroque and morbid, but not necessarily horror in the traditional fear and suspense-sense  and so I would not apply the necessities of a horror RPG to it.

 

Space marines won't have to deal with uncle john being found out as a mutant, or think about how all these victims could have just as easily been me, because they can't have just as easily been the marine.

 

 No, but they might have to worry about why a sergeant of their home chapter's squad was spotted boarding a ship at a known Tau colony.  Sure it's not horror, but embarrassment and loss of honor can be fates worse than death for a marine and maintain all of the same suspense. And technically it couldn't have been the players in a Dark Heresy game either, as they're far more competent than you might expect and would require the same stripping down that a space marine would.  Not to the same degree, but it would still be required by your scenario.

 

 It isn't that it is impossible to create horror for marines, but you have to increase the stakes, and that limits the game, and more importantly it is just harder than doing it with mostly human protagonists. So, if you are starting at a blank slate (such as OP is) I suggest starting in a setting not dominated by marines.

 Just as a point, OP did mention power armored characters being his first choice.  I don't deny that it takes a little more effort, but I certainly wouldn't dissuade anyone from doing so.



#11
Teetengee

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-snip-

Story and atmosphere is not the same thing as horror, even in 40k.  You say that 40k is at its core a horror environment.  I disagree with that on a fundamental level.  I would describe it as baroque and morbid, but not necessarily horror in the traditional fear and suspense-sense  and so I would not apply the necessities of a horror RPG to it.
-snip-


 

 

Space marines won't have to deal with uncle john being found out as a mutant, or think about how all these victims could have just as easily been me, because they can't have just as easily been the marine.

 

 No, but they might have to worry about why a sergeant of their home chapter's squad was spotted boarding a ship at a known Tau colony.  Sure it's not horror, but embarrassment and loss of honor can be fates worse than death for a marine and maintain all of the same suspense. And technically it couldn't have been the players in a Dark Heresy game either, as they're far more competent than you might expect and would require the same stripping down that a space marine would.  Not to the same degree, but it would still be required by your scenario.

 

 It isn't that it is impossible to create horror for marines, but you have to increase the stakes, and that limits the game, and more importantly it is just harder than doing it with mostly human protagonists. So, if you are starting at a blank slate (such as OP is) I suggest starting in a setting not dominated by marines.

 Just as a point, OP did mention power armored characters being his first choice.  I don't deny that it takes a little more effort, but I certainly wouldn't dissuade anyone from doing so.

 

To your first point. Ok, we all come from it at a different angle. That is part of what's great about the setting, I think it is fundamentally a horror setting, but other people disagree, and that's cool too. If OP disagrees with me and agrees with you, then yeah, he deathwatch may be just the right thing for this problem.

Your other points are also fair, although I would point out that just because something is a fate worse than death for the character, it isn't necessarily a fate worse than character death for the character's player, so depending on what sort of emotions you want to pull from your players, that is good or bad.

Also, I just wanted to point him away from marines a bit, because he probably was already looking into them and therefore doesn't need me to suggest much more on that front. I am sure, particularly on this forum, he won't have just my words for deciding on what he wants. It basically comes down to what he wants, and what sorts of things he wants to put effort into. As long as we can help him choose the best stuff for him, then our advice has done its job.


My Chaos WIP Thread (Bigger Pics and Foul Xenos offsite) Hall of Honour, My Storm Reavers (DIY SM Chapter) Story, My Chaos 7.5 Homebrew Codex Thread
In us burns a fire for vengeance that will only be quenched when we stand triumphant over the smoldering ruins of Terra. Our laughter on that day will haunt their survivors till the end of time. We will stride forth victorious through the shattered gates of their fortress, holding high aloft the defiled corpse of their rotting god as our prize.
Wulfkry, on 02 Jul 2013 - 3:38 PM, said: So an inquisitor is receiving SM implants using GK geneseed stolen off the fields of armageddon interesting..
Captain Semper, on 29 May 2015 - 4:10 AM, said: There is crazy and there is Teetengee crazy... ph34r.pngnuke.gif

Warsmith Aznable, on 30 Jan 2016 - 01:16 AM, said: 13. Teetengee wrote "Warp Born" and I won't even go into how disturbing the subject matter was.
The Psycho, on 26 Apr 2016 - 10:50 PM, said: That's either really disturbing or really cute, I haven't quite made up my mind yet.

gallery_48988_15465_38466.pngR9n4SPM.pngCall_of_Chaos_9_Medal_02.gifsml_gallery_29004_12090_4775.pngETL_Medal_04.giffriday-award.pngx9we_badge_teetengee.pnggallery_29004_10514_2007.jpggallery_29004_10514_234.jpggallery_48988_6285_1348.png

I'm not dead, and I like 8th better than 7th.


#12
Jareddm

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Your other points are also fair, although I would point out that just because something is a fate worse than death for the character, it isn't necessarily a fate worse than character death for the character's player, so depending on what sort of emotions you want to pull from your players, that is good or bad.

That's a good point.  It's certainly something I would encourage my players to take advantage of, especially in a space marine game, but I understand the player perspective would vary.

 

 

Also, I just wanted to point him away from marines a bit, because he probably was already looking into them and therefore doesn't need me to suggest much more on that front. I am sure, particularly on this forum, he won't have just my words for deciding on what he wants. It basically comes down to what he wants, and what sorts of things he wants to put effort into. As long as we can help him choose the best stuff for him, then our advice has done its job.
That's perfectly fair and I'm happy to have alternative perspectives.

Edited by Jareddm, 31 December 2015 - 07:31 PM.


#13
Midgard

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I just wanted to pop in and say thank you to you fine folks for your thoughts on the topic. From my perspective as a fan of the setting, I am attracted to the dark, heroic, gothic space opera that it represents more so than to the pure "horror" aspect (ironic, considering that my published works are all in the horror genre, heh!); while there is definitely a good amount of horror influence in Warhammer and WH40K, the things that originally attracted me to it had to do with my love for the works of Michael Moorcock (a major influence on WHFB/WH40K, especially with his concept of Chaos), and my long-standing love affair with space opera genre. That said, the beauty of the setting is that there are many stories that can be told, and it does not have to be one or the other.

 

An Inquisition campaign probably has the most flexibility and wide appeal - in the hands of a good storyteller, it can be anything from criminal investigation to something very Lovecraftian and disturbing. Even a campaign focused on the Astartes can turn into a horror story with the right changes (as the allure of settings such as space hulks or Chaos-infested worlds/locales can attest). Now, if I were to ever try to run a campaign...

 

I'll back up a little here. I don't think that someone like, say, my wife (who usually played a Warlock in World of Warcraft, if that gives you any idea) would be interested in an Astartes-centered campaign, if I could get her interested in a 40K RPG to begin with. At the same time, a Dark Heresy campaign might be of more interest to players who don't have to go for essentially five or six different flavors of a Warrior archetype, and could enable an actual campaign to take place.

 

In the end, no one is wrong - any setting can be what we make of it. Even the 40K setting, for all its brutality and grime, is so vast that I can imagine the majority of the Imperial citizens living their lives without encountering an alien, a space marine, an Inquisitor, or anything out of ordinary - in fact, there are probably hundreds of thousands of worlds where life is not that bad, comparatively speaking, and normal human endeavors continue. Compared to the real world, it is the equivalent of looking only at what is happening in Syria/northern Mexico/eastern Ukraine/more conflict-ridden parts of Africa and ignoring that a large part of the world's population in places like Western Europe, North America, China, Japan, or much of Southeast Asia is if not thriving then at least doing rather well (well enough to have conversations about a grimdark fictional universe, at least ;) ). Yes, bad things can happen in London/Paris/New York/Moscow/Beijing too, but for the most part, the greater amount of human suffering takes place elsewhere. In comparison, I presume that even in 40K, life is not too terrible if you are on one of the civilized wars far from the front lines - however, we don't usually see those worlds much because nothing of interest to fans of a military sci-fi combat game ever happens there.

 

My point is that the 40K setting is just that, a setting, and it is up to us as fans and players to get whatever we want out of it. I think all of you are right :)


Twisthammer - alternate history reimagining of Warhammer 40,000

Conqueror - Book One of Twisthammer (novel)

Midgard - melodic death metal

My Amazon author page