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Moral Chaos?


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#1
Daemon Prince Marbas

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Do you think it would be cool to have a Chaos Warband that actually cared about humans that served under them and considers them equals rather than slaves and serfs?
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#2
Lucerne

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It's 40k. Morality is relative.

 

Night Lords sometimes treat their serfs well, Alpha Legion is "democratic" about its operatives at times, Nurglites are doing it out of "kindness"...


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#3
N1SB

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Yes, and they do it ironically, just to show the Imperium how it should've treated its subjects.

 

...considers them equals rather than slaves and serfs?

 

But at best, I would think they consider normal humans as pets rather than vermin.  We spoil the hell out of our cat, treat her better than we do each other, but she remains a cat and a not a human.


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#4
Subtle Discord

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Thank you! As a feline owner I'm not sure how I missed it but that's a perfect analogy that really reinforces how I want to portray the Cultists of my Black Legion. They're usually portrayed as a rag-tag mob with scrounged and improvised weapons and worn tattered clothing. I want to go for more of a really unsavory motorcycle gang who get treated reasonably well so they're actually willing to charge into the meat-grinder when ordered to do so. If all Chaos can offer is squalor why exactly do I want to damn my soul to the warp in service to them, again?


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#5
Lucerne

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I can definitely see astartes being paternalistic about their followers, leading by example...


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#6
Juggernut

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I think a renegade warband would fit best with this sort of philosophy. The legions are just so damn brutal, would feel out of place in a way. But the beauty of the setting as a setting is room to tell whatever story you want.

If your World Eaters are humanitarians, go for it. :P
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#7
Dr_Ruminahui

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If all Chaos can offer is squalor why exactly do I want to damn my soul to the warp in service to them, again?

 

I wanted to comment just on this specifically.

 

1.  I think one of the main reasons for the "squalor" is that most cultists come from the dejected and downtrodden.  The 40K universe is a dystopian hellhole, even for the parts that aren't battlezones, with huge differences between the very wealthy minority and the impoverished multitudes.  By that formula, even if cultists were drawn equally from all populations, by a large margin most would be "squallid" as it were.  So, the squallor has as much (or more) to do with the starting point as the end point.

 

2.  That said, the rich and powerful also sign themselves over to chaos, so one could well have cultists that are oppulent rather than squallid.  That said, I don't know if cultists are the best representation of such converts, but are more likely their followers (IMHO, in my opinion its unlikely that you would have a group of decadent rich running around with autoguns - more likely they would pay/order others to do it for them).  The rather pathetic cultist profile isn't a very good representation of this type of cultist (either the master or the indentured) IMHO.

 

3.  Chaos doesn't really have an end game that promotes the survival of cultists.  Any revolt or invasion by chaos forces is going to be met, sooner or later, with overwhelming force from the Imperium.  So, given that the long term outcome of cultists is so poor, there isn't much incentive to "coddle" them in the short term.  

 

4.  Most cultists as portrayed by GW are of the "let the galaxy burn" variety where they were the oppressed who have finally been given the tools and opportunity to escape their unfortunate lot.

 

5.  Chaos space marines are unlikely to have the patience to deal with all the minutia of keeping a civilian society going.  Therefore, even if they were inclined to keep a bunch of lowly mortals around, its unlikely that they would have much time or patience for listening or attending to the human's wants or needs.

 

6.  The hierarchy of the heretic astartes is one that does not reward perceived weakness, and kindness to one's cultists is likely to be seen as a weakness.

 

7.  What role do the cultists play for the space marines?  Again, I think it's unlikely that the heretic astartes would keep them around "just because".  I can see a group of cultists being treated well while they serve a useful purpose (for example, they may have the connections or knowledge to allow the marines to conduct pinpoint raids and piracy), but I would be doubtful that the marines would keep the cultists around when they have lost their utility - that could mean sending them to their deaths or just mean the marines moving on and leaving the cultists behind.

 

So, it is perfectly feasible for a group of chaos space marines to treat their cultists well, but I think it would require a rather particular fact scenario - I think it would be helpful to think of how and why the cultists are useful to the marines... and for how much longer that is likely to last.

 

Wow... that was quite a bit longer than I thought it was...


Edited by Dr_Ruminahui, 31 July 2020 - 03:56 PM.

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#8
Lucerne

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I mean, as you say not all cultists are equal- even in the "disposable cannon fodder" type, you have cultists like DOW2 where they sound like trained fanatics, are wearing fancy gear that looks like carapace, and are obviously meant to bog down troops like Space Marines.

 

That said, "cultist" is a catch-all term- I can see CSM raising entire proper armies especially when they have territory of their own to hold. Marines don't want to do "peacekeeping" and may not be keen on administration, after all. Even ignoring outliers like Alpha Legion, we've seen sufficiently blessed mortal champions take up leadership positions in warbands before.


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#9
Subtle Discord

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If all Chaos can offer is squalor why exactly do I want to damn my soul to the warp in service to them, again?

 
*snip*
Wow... that was quite a bit longer than I thought it was...

Yeah, wow, slow down there fella', really didn't expect that to hit a nerve with anyone. I think you're reading too much into that and I'm one who overthinks things all the time, so don't take this as anything but friendly, but as with everyone, "yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion man." smile.png Chaos has to be offering something better (different?), even if it's a looooong shot and/or a ruse, otherwise why even consider it?
 
This actually ties in with something in general about Chaos that I've always held. Chaos Marines are psycho-indoctrinated super soldiers who basically have comprehensive combat and field manuals for engagements of any scale, up to and including 'cut off behind enemy lines' scenarios and/or marshaling whole planets/sub-sectors military, including support logistics, even if it's just to delegate it to someone who knows what they're doing. Even if you've fallen to Chaos, unless something else is driving them to make less than ideal choices (cursed, madness, trapped, etc.) they are going to fall back on their training and organize at whatever level they can because it's going to be practical, work, and be all-but instinctive. Sure, it's going to be perverted and altered in ways from small to profound based on the circumstances and the whims of the warp, but even that could start/progress very slowly or accelerate at breakneck speed as per the fickle gaze of the Dark Gods. But under and before it all, they are psycho-indoctrinated Marines and all but the most extreme circumstances are going to change that.

 

I'm not sure how my description of the Cultists as a really unsavory motorcycle gang indicated that the Marines would put too much effort towards keeping them in line and/or to coddle them. It seems reasonable that they'd have lower ranking warband member be a lieutenant of sorts for them; "keep them fed and entertained so they don't kill each other too much outside of the arena, and be sure they're sober enough to fight when the time comes or it will be your head." Broad shoulders are all the better to catch Bolter rounds, after all, and a bit of passable wargear, a full belly, and some combat training go a long way to encourage them to charge into the line of fire. If I keep attack dogs while I'm operating and organized crime ring, is it really weakness to treat the dogs well and have them properly trained and cared for, and even pick out a few favorites? All while pitting them against each other in a fighting pit now-and-then for some fun and willingly siccing them on attackers at their own peril because that's their primary purpose. Seems rather practical and psychotic to me, personally, and just about right for a well-established warband. smile.png


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#10
Dr_Ruminahui

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Sorry if I came across as being upset or having hit a nerve - rather, I just had a number of thoughts that were relevant that just happened to be longer than I had expected.  So if I came across as suggesting that your approach was wrong - that's not what I intended.  Rather, I was (unsuccessfully) attempting to set out why cultists are for the most part taken as expendable in GW fluff, not to try to set out reasons why yours shouldn't be.

 

I have no problem with what you are suggesting - in fact, I think its quite interesting as I think there would be something quite different with the way they approach or think about things.  


Edited by Dr_Ruminahui, 01 August 2020 - 01:04 AM.

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#11
Subtle Discord

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No no, it's all good. Look at the size of my response, I'm all for the talk. Not offended, just surprised that one little snippet caused that much or a reply. :) I must say though, if the majority of Cultists are treated with such disregard as many of your points suggest, I think the spirit of my first statement you quoted stands. Many people seem to see the 40k universe as much more late-dystopian to the point that I struggle to see how the complexity of it all would even hope to operate, even at glacially slow speed, because of the level of advanced dysfunction. Yes things are bad, it's belching smoke, and parts are falling off eveywhere, but the engine is still chugging along. Yes, I do think Chaos Marines are going to keep some form or civilian society going because, even if it's in a completely different vision, that's what they're trying to establish and what they need to provide everything required to continue the Long War. I personally think that not every corner of the 40k universe is an endless warzone, industry wasteland, or hive slum, and that even includes places claimed by Chaos where the laws of the material plane might become twisted, but not everything is pain, misery, and suffering.


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#12
tychobi

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Chaos is defined by differences, you worship your dark gods your own way. Demon worshipers kinda have to go along with whatever twisted nonsense their chaos spawned lords come up with. Why not a faction of warriors sworn to protect the sacred flock of succulent plump well fed and perfumed human dumplings ahem cultists! Sounds grimdark enough to me😎

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#13
Lucerne

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No no, it's all good. Look at the size of my response, I'm all for the talk. Not offended, just surprised that one little snippet caused that much or a reply. smile.png I must say though, if the majority of Cultists are treated with such disregard as many of your points suggest, I think the spirit of my first statement you quoted stands. Many people seem to see the 40k universe as much more late-dystopian to the point that I struggle to see how the complexity of it all would even hope to operate, even at glacially slow speed, because of the level of advanced dysfunction. Yes things are bad, it's belching smoke, and parts are falling off eveywhere, but the engine is still chugging along. Yes, I do think Chaos Marines are going to keep some form or civilian society going because, even if it's in a completely different vision, that's what they're trying to establish and what they need to provide everything required to continue the Long War. I personally think that not every corner of the 40k universe is an endless warzone, industry wasteland, or hive slum, and that even includes places claimed by Chaos where the laws of the material plane might become twisted, but not everything is pain, misery, and suffering.

Abaddon in particular wants to conquer, never mind the various fiefdoms that get set up in the Eye. Civilization by some definitions definitely exists there- and I wish GW would actually elaborate on what Chaotic conquests look like. Hell, even the Blood Pact basically set up a transitional government on Gereon in ADB's books and have "research labs" of their own!


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#14
MasterDeath

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Hmm... what are Cultists? I would say it depends on the Dark God they mainly worship (or have a tendency to, not all Cultists even know about Chaos. They just see the CSM as their saviours).

 

Nurgle Cultists for example are probably taken from the lowliest outcasts, especially lepers. They have nothing to lose, but can win a small respite from their pain. And at least the DG tends to treat their cultists and mutants kinda humane. (Lords of Silence) Equipment wise... maybe they have rocks? An old gun? Whatever is at hand?

Khorne Cultists are more the "honour and blood" kind, recruited from primitive worlds or military with too much honour code.I can see these armed with melee weaponry to hightech guns and plate. Word Eaters kill these guys at a whim, but if any of these humans kills a marine somehow, he would gather a good amount of respect.

Slaanesh Cultists are thrill seekers of some kind. From drug addicts to stoned to see the danger to "death is a fun sensation" guys. The CSM to them are probably figures of worship and dieing for them is just what these guys want. The EC are maybe even pamper these guys, collecting them like post stamps. "This specimen I have from Cadia, and these from Bellis Corona. I would trade one of those for one of your Stygia specimen. No, not this one, that one is damaged."

Real Tzeentch Cultists at last can probably not be found on the battlefield, but surely some not-knowing low lives manipulated into fighting for some cause.

 

And then there are differences by legion. The 4 Cult legions I mentioned above. Black Legion is dependant on the Lord present, could be anything from "10 000 year old cynical bastard, who sends humans to death for a chuckle" to "recently went traitor but still sees his job in saving humanity from the empire, likes to train his humans auxilliarys to the highest standards". Similar for Renegades. We know the Alpha Legion recruits capable Cultists. IW sees them as Fodder. NL I think they see humans as expandable toys, but above someone mentioned a source where they treated humans kinda ok? WB at last sees humans as a ressource to be forcefully indoctrinated and used in whatever means neccessary.

 

If you want to play humane CSM, I would say write up some Chapter that went Rogue recently. (rulewise you can use whatever of course) They could see the empire as the true evil, but still do not trust chaos fully. They need human Aux-Troops to buff their numbers, but tend to train and equip them.


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#15
Rune Priest Ridcully

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The way I'm envisioning my Emperor's Children treating their cultists/mortals is that they have grown bored of fear, and feel that treating them like trash is offensive to the Slaanesh/ acting as the "perfect" benevolent lords is far more satisfying to Slaanesh, in part because it is so much more challenging in the eye then just using them as chattel.

"Yes the lady of inspiration gifts the strong and great for their feats on the battle field, but her gaze is upon us at all times, so do not forget that in your actions off the field".
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My Thousand sons likewise try to keep the pre heresy uplifting ethos of the legion alive, but only really concerning mortals who are useful/psykers/ have the family lines that produce them, and will often treat the non psychic elements of their cults as disposable.

Considering we have references to chaos lords cutting out their own empires in the imperium Nihhilus, it would be nice to have more descriptions of them.


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#16
Rune Priest Ridcully

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H. The EC are maybe even pamper these guys, collecting them like post stamps. "This specimen I have from Cadia, and these from Bellis Corona. I would trade one of those for one of your Stygia specimen. No, not this one, that one is damaged."

 

I am now imaging stations/planets set up by the EC explicitly for this, complete with competitions, bargaining, adverts ect "Mint condition Cadians available, will except trades for mint Armageddon steel legion memebers, Eldar harpists of Ulthewe or a Horusian Inquisitor."

That or going along the lines of purebred Dog/Cat competitions, with best in show ect.


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QUOTE (Kol_Saresk @ Oct 22 2012, 06:49 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I love how GW creates the Warp Talon to be some sort of super-powered Raptor, and instead it's become the king-of-all-kitbashes.

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#17
Tallarn Commander

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Dan Abnett's 2004 Gaunt's Ghosts book "Traitor General" does a nice job of depicting what a Chaos occupation looks like on Gereon.

After awhile the regular folks become tainted and keep their heads down and try to ignore the presence of daemons and Chaos glyphs. Meanwhile the elites try to curry favor with Chaos officials.
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#18
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So, 40k is grimdark, which has been established a thousand times over. There are a lot of in-between that can happen but generally speaking....life sucks. It might not be on the scale of Hive slump or factory taint scrubber but its not pleasant by any means for the general populace. A big part of that entire bit is the fact that we have such a huge span of time to work with, just in -one- millennium, let alone ten of them. That stretch of time could easily see a planet go from peaceful to civil war, to taken over by some alien race, to back to Imperium, back to safety, back into a civil war and everything in between. So looking at things in the perspective of time it is possible to see peace at -some- point. But overall? When one takes into account the history of the last 10k years? It's war. At some point. Combine this with the life spans of some of those within the Imperium (and beyond) well...that's something too to take into consideration.

 

Then we have the Space Marines and specifically the Chaos Marines. Even by lore, loyalist Marines don't exactly have a great record with how they treat mortals at times (given the chapter) who see themselves as the defenders of the Imperium and in some cases at any cost. To turn to chaos is to give up a lot of that. I'm not saying it cant be done but that it shouldn't be overdone given the base nature of the world that GW created. The biggest resource is mankind itself, it powers everything, it wears itself out but self replicates on such a vast scale. Chaos values strength and those that falter tend to die fast from it and a lot of these Chaos Marines don't want that end, they want the power, which means stepping over the little guy. Fear is a huge motivator. Fear of the unknown, fear of the known which pushes those to join Chaos thinking it is the better choice when in reality, none of the choices within the 40k universe are great at all.

 

As I've said before (quite a bit on these forums) Chaos has such a huge amount of variance within itself that a lot of things are possible. How each world is created, ran, conquered, day to day life, all of that is up in the air because not only is Chaos made up of the multitudes of humanity but also the influence of the warp which multiplies that number exponentially. Out of your established Legions I don't see much nicety going on. Maybe Slaanesh in a way if they are cultivating something for a greater reward in the end, but in the end it will be just as messy. Really the only ones that I could see doing something decent towards mortals would be a newly turned warband (although one could argue that cullings would happen to the mortals to weed out those not faithful to the new way of doing things). Even then, over time as equipment or the quality of life deteriorated I could easily see their thoughts changing on their mortal followers.

 

Overall I don't think the moral factor could last long realistically within the bounds of the lore that's already been established. Its so common place for mortals to get a break for a bit but then be tossed right back into the meat grinder of the cheap life for the vast majority of the population in the galaxy.


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#19
Lucerne

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So, 40k is grimdark, which has been established a thousand times over. There are a lot of in-between that can happen but generally speaking....life sucks. It might not be on the scale of Hive slump or factory taint scrubber but its not pleasant by any means for the general populace. A big part of that entire bit is the fact that we have such a huge span of time to work with, just in -one- millennium, let alone ten of them. That stretch of time could easily see a planet go from peaceful to civil war, to taken over by some alien race, to back to Imperium, back to safety, back into a civil war and everything in between. So looking at things in the perspective of time it is possible to see peace at -some- point. But overall? When one takes into account the history of the last 10k years? It's war. At some point. Combine this with the life spans of some of those within the Imperium (and beyond) well...that's something too to take into consideration.

 

Then we have the Space Marines and specifically the Chaos Marines. Even by lore, loyalist Marines don't exactly have a great record with how they treat mortals at times (given the chapter) who see themselves as the defenders of the Imperium and in some cases at any cost. To turn to chaos is to give up a lot of that. I'm not saying it cant be done but that it shouldn't be overdone given the base nature of the world that GW created. The biggest resource is mankind itself, it powers everything, it wears itself out but self replicates on such a vast scale. Chaos values strength and those that falter tend to die fast from it and a lot of these Chaos Marines don't want that end, they want the power, which means stepping over the little guy. Fear is a huge motivator. Fear of the unknown, fear of the known which pushes those to join Chaos thinking it is the better choice when in reality, none of the choices within the 40k universe are great at all.

 

As I've said before (quite a bit on these forums) Chaos has such a huge amount of variance within itself that a lot of things are possible. How each world is created, ran, conquered, day to day life, all of that is up in the air because not only is Chaos made up of the multitudes of humanity but also the influence of the warp which multiplies that number exponentially. Out of your established Legions I don't see much nicety going on. Maybe Slaanesh in a way if they are cultivating something for a greater reward in the end, but in the end it will be just as messy. Really the only ones that I could see doing something decent towards mortals would be a newly turned warband (although one could argue that cullings would happen to the mortals to weed out those not faithful to the new way of doing things). Even then, over time as equipment or the quality of life deteriorated I could easily see their thoughts changing on their mortal followers.

 

Overall I don't think the moral factor could last long realistically within the bounds of the lore that's already been established. Its so common place for mortals to get a break for a bit but then be tossed right back into the meat grinder of the cheap life for the vast majority of the population in the galaxy.

Exceptions prove the rule: yes, there is a bias towards contempt and mistreatment by Marines that have already gone through traumas but even in canon we have "nice" CSM in the form of some Death Guard and Night Lords for starters. Ironically, I'd say newly turned warbands are less likely to have the perspective needed for decency.

 

Thousand Sons definitely value subordinate psykers- to a point.


Edited by Lucerne, 02 August 2020 - 04:50 AM.

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#20
Goreshed

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@Lucerene - To be sure there is a degree of everything. Which is critical when we look at if this is a comparison between 40k and real life or within the realm of 40k itself. I'm more of the belief that there are far too many factors to try and put anything concrete as to who or who isn't nice to mortals. At the same time I have always been more of the fact that so long as a mortal is useful they are treated better than just raw chaff since there is a value there. But life is still extremely cheap for regular old mortals no matter where they fit within the 40k universe.


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