Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Some thoughts on Warhammer

So, I've been thinking about Warhammer a lot recently.

First, there's the new Age of Sigmar, a continuation of Fantasy Battle that has destroyed the Old World completely and now the battles range across planes, like a war in heaven. That kind of pissed me off at first, what with one of my favourite fantasy settings being wiped out and all that, but I realised that the Old World stopped being about how I remembered it a long time before that - the Old World to me was the late 1980s, with the softback Warhammer Roleplay rulebook, and it went through quite a few changes that passed me by completely.

I still have my Old World and I'll continue to game in it, but the new Age of Sigmar simply isn't for me. I've read the fluff and, while epic, it doesn't really do anything for me. I've seen the game in action, though, and it looks like it plays pretty well.

Warhammer 40K is a completely different kettle of fish. I love the gonzo bonkers setting - I call it Death Metal Dune - and the history from before the Horus Heresy up to the 41st Millenium is fantastic. Everything about it screams EPPPPIIIICCCC!!!! and the atmosphere and design is fantastic. Other than the space orks, which are fun but are simply just that - stupid orks in space - it's a really well realised setting.

It's just that... it feels so stale right now. I'm not up to speed on it to be truthful - I started on the First Edition from 1987 and the last book I read was the 6th edition, but it feels like the setting needs shaking up. I haven't played the game in more than 20 years (not a huge fan, I'm afraid) but I've always loved the setting.

Other than the Horus Heresy books, which did nothing to further the timeline anyway, there hasn't really been any epic stories about the Imperium that have grabbed me. The majority of stories are about incidents on worlds that matter very little, and there seems to be a missed opportunity with doing something huge. I had high hopes for the Ultramarines movie a few years ago, but that was terrible and was just about a thing that happen to some guys on a planet somewhere.

What 40K needs is a kick in the arse, something to further the story and to give gamers and readers something to sink their teeth into. Not a story that happens somewhere that nobody cares about (it appeals to the nihilistic tone of the setting, but that's all that happens) but something galaxy-shattering and huge. Something that shows a bit of character instead of just your standard 'Kill for the Emperor!' stuff that works great for the tabletop game, not so much for the story as a whole.

I'm probably missing something as I've not read any WH40K fiction for a long time, and I accept that - please point me in the right direction if there has been something published that changes things.

I guess I'll complete my Imperium-changing WH40K RPG game and play that, and change the setting to suit my needs, like I did with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Like I do with most of my games.

That's the wonder of this hobby, and probably the reason why I shouldn't whine about this kind of stuff - I can make the story mine.

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