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Battle-Brother Wags
15-02-2008, 11:59
I'm not too big on the fluff and background of the history of the entire galaxy of the 40k universe. I like to know the fluff of my own armies and why they perform like they do, but one question did appear to me a long time ago that I never gave any more thought to until now.

That kinda catch-phrase for the BRB is "In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war" and obviously the current universe of the gameworld is set in the 41st millenium. Now I'm not trying to be supertechnical or stupid here, but if you look at other huge sci-fi franchises, you have, for example, Star Trek which is a wildly different universe than we have in real-time today, but they show how we got from the real-time 20th century to the time period in which the show/books take place. Star Wars deals with this issue by simply say "In a galaxy far far away" so there doesn't need to be any continuance on the storyline. So I'm sure you can see where my question is going -

Did the story-writers say "Well, its so far in the future that all these things that don't exist today will have the ability to evolve/develop, etc" Most notably here is the warp, warp storms, and the presence of chaos. Do they ever explain where they came from or in what form they existed during 'present' day?

I dunno, maybe the whole question is rubbish. I've just always been fascinated with the thought of "how do we reconcile the 40k universe with today's universe." Obviously its fiction, but so is Star Trek, and it reconciles itself pretty well.

Any thoughts?

Kage2020
15-02-2008, 13:14
It's much the same as the Star Wars universe, except instead of "a galaxy far, far away" you've got a number of events that create breaks in what might otherwise be continual development. For example, while you might have had continual development from the modern period to the Golden/Dark Age of Technology, this was broken first by the Age of Strife (purportedly the result of the 'revolt' of the Iron Men as well as the simultaneous emergence of psykers across human worlds), then by the Horus Heresy, which essentially extinguished the "light" of the Great Crusade.

All in all, these events coupled with others (e.g. the Fall of the Eldar which leads to the Great Crusade) then feedback into what is essentially the "Cassocks in Space" approach to the 40k universe. That is, the themed "dark medieval fantasy in space" which gives us the game universe that so many people love...

Taking a look back from the 40k universe to the past? Well, they've been through several "Dark Ages," so it is difficult to establish continuity. They just don't understand that much about the past and, if you are to believe those who are adherents to the Image of the Imperium (at least, perhaps even the other races), there isn't any sense of inquiry into the past. You have no real archaeologists, historians, or what not... No idea that one must question the evidence of the past, just the acceptance that it is what it was...

Erm, if that's the kind of answer you were after.

Kage

Russell's teapot
15-02-2008, 13:16
I don't claim to be an expert however, this may help:

http://www.criticalhit.co.uk/tl/wh40ktl.cgi?all

I'm there'll be a debate the truth or otherwise of this...

Spartan
15-02-2008, 13:17
Exactly what Kage said, and I think that your were right with the "ahhhh it is so far away that stuff will prob be around by then"

Baltar
15-02-2008, 13:18
It's much the same as the Star Wars universe, except instead of "a galaxy far, far away" you've got a number of events that create breaks in what might otherwise be continual development.

Not that I want to derail the conversation, but in what way is that ANYTHING like Star Wars?

StanMcKim
15-02-2008, 13:28
I think Kage2020 means they have a justification as to why there is no direct continuity between our world and the fictional one, and that justification is sort of a "just accept it" kind of response.
-Stan

Apologist
15-02-2008, 13:31
The connection between 3rd Millennium earth (i.e. the present day) and the 40th Millennium is blurred by a dark age. There are a few hints here and there, but it's implied in very old fluff that there's a nuclear holocaust or other disaster that destroys our civilisation; allowing a neat jink into the 41st Millennium, with all the 'where/when did this happen?' questions lost somewhere in the 'Dark Age of Technology'.

In short, there's a golden age of humanity where we send ships out into the stars, and there's a brief empire (with a small 'e') of humanity being served and protected by robots. Around this time, warp travel is discovered, navigators and astropaths are bred, and everything is pretty spiffy (first contact with Eldar and Orks is during this time, I believe).

Unfortunately, humankind starts developing psychic mutants, the robots (Iron Men) revolt, Earth reverts to barbarism after an unnamed disaster and the warp becomes impassable due to Slaanesh being created. The nascent human empire is torn apart; and most knowledge of science and technology is lost across the galaxy to be replaced with credulity, religion and fear.

This continues for centuries (even millennia) until the Emperor reveals himself, reunites earth and sets out to join humanity together with a credo of knowledge. This is the Great Crusade, which ends in the death of the Emperor and reversion to worship of gods and technological mysticism.

Battle-Brother Wags
15-02-2008, 13:59
This continues for centuries (even millennia) until the Emperor reveals himself, reunites earth and sets out to join humanity together with a credo of knowledge. This is the Great Crusade, which ends in the death of the Emperor and reversion to worship of gods and technological mysticism.

So the Emperor IS dead . . . just kept somewhat physically or psychically alive in the golden throne? And his High Lords of Terra basically rule in his name with really no input from the Emperor cause he's just kinda in a stasis or something?

So the Emperor, had he survived, would have continued the technological advance of mankind. But since he died and everyone fell basically into mysticism, technological advance came to a grinding halt.

Are machine spirits real spirits or just the mystical misunderstandings of how machines work?

"Ok you guys mumble a chant in the corner while I tinker with it to try to get it started, m'kay?"

de Selby
15-02-2008, 14:32
The emperor apparently still 'exists', in that he consumes the souls of psykers and controls the astronomican. Whether that counts as 'alive' or 'dead' I don't know.


Did the story-writers say "Well, its so far in the future that all these things that don't exist today will have the ability to evolve/develop, etc" Most notably here is the warp, warp storms, and the presence of chaos. Do they ever explain where they came from or in what form they existed during 'present' day?

This is an interesting one. Presumably the warp powers are meant to be veiled from humanity at this point in our development. Like the tau, we have no psykers, and the eye of terror has not formed. Gross warp-related phenomena and warp storms are not common in the galaxy prior to the birth of Slaanesh... maybe. That's just my interpretation, I don't have canon references.

Lucifer216
15-02-2008, 14:34
The problem is that it's a bit of both. Given the fact that in 40K people's beliefs and emotions actually have a weak effect on reality, for example daemons ARE physical manifestations of emotions, long term belief in Machine spirits probably mean that they probably exist to a certain extent. But hitting the on switch without chanting the rite of ignition is still going to work in most cases, although I wouldn't recommend it if you're trying activate a Warlord Titan. Those things have the personalities of bears and are bound to be cranky on waking up...

Lucifer216
15-02-2008, 14:46
The emperor apparently still 'exists', in that he consumes the souls of psykers and controls the astronomican. Whether that counts as 'alive' or 'dead' I don't know.

The problem with this arguement is that it could still be the case without the actual continued existence of the Emperor. The consumed souls could simply be being used to keep the Webway gate inside the Emperor's palace shut or to help power/focus the Astronomicon. That's the difference between old and modern 40K background: The maintainance of a degree of uncertainity as to whether the Emperor still is physically "alive" in the slightest and capable of influencing matters with his psychic might or as Chaos would have us believe is a withered dead husk of nothing but symbolic importance.

Back when the 40K universe was just being fleshed out, Ian Watson wrote a trilogy called the Inquisition war which had an Inquisitor have an audience with the Emperor. The Emperor had split his personality into over 40 different facets, in order to oversee the Imperium and the fragments were steadily losing their grasp on sanity, as well as suffering in total unspeakable agony in each moment.

Apologist
15-02-2008, 14:47
So the Emperor IS dead . . . just kept somewhat physically or psychically alive in the golden throne? And his High Lords of Terra basically rule in his name with really no input from the Emperor cause he's just kinda in a stasis or something?

D'oh! Sorry, meant 'sort of/maybe died'.
That's one of the big questions of 40k, and adds a lot to the gothic feel and depth of the atmosphere. Is the Carrion Lord of Mankind still alive? What are the implications of him being dead/alive/kept alive against his will? What would happen if he changed in state?


So the Emperor, had he survived, would have continued the technological advance of mankind. But since he died and everyone fell basically into mysticism, technological advance came to a grinding halt.
That's basically right. We know that the Emperor resisted the fact he was being seen as a god; and though we don't know the reasons for sure, we can make a reasonable assumption it's to do with how emotions affect the warp.


Are machine spirits real spirits or just the mystical misunderstandings of how machines work?
Discussion here:
http://warseer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=125876&highlight=machine+spirits
and here:
http://warseer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=125044&highlight=machine+spirits

My personal interpretation is:
On Machine-Spirits: So what the heck is a machine-spirit, and how does it fit into the Cult's religion?
The term machine-spirit is used in a number of confusing and inter-related ways:
1) As 'numinem' or 'ghosts' that are sent by the Machine God to occupy each machine. The more complex the machine, the more powerful the machine spirit sent by the Machine God to occupy it so a lasgun will have a feeble machine spirit that can be easily placated by cleaning it regularly, while a plasma engine has a mighty spirit that requires careful rituals to honour it. We would recognise these rituals as maintenance and probably laugh at the Tech-priest's credulity (out of sight, unless you wanted to be zapped!).
2) As physical, biological items with programming embedded; such as Robots' brains, and Land Raider's. These are complex, semi-biological machines that are ill-understood by the Mechanicus as explained above. The brains are not necessarily based on humans' (other canonical examples include watchdogs, bears, warhounds and other fierce beasts)
3) As extremely complex machines that seem to have some limited sentience, but are not considered soulless sentiences. The best example of these are Titans. As extremely complex machines, Titans are considered to be very close to the Machine God indeed, and thus Tech-priests would believe they have the most powerful machine spirits (as in sense 1 above) in them. However, Titans are also portrayed as actually semi-sentient in numerous 40k background something that would probably frighten us if we'd laughed at sense 1 of the term!. This can be explained by the Titan having a machine spirit in sense 2 (this is canonical titans are mentioned as having the spirit of bears, warhounds etc. as part of them), and this machine spirit being developed and altered by almost constant contact with human sentience in the form of the Princeps. A dying Princeps can impart some of his sentience to the Titan (viz. the graphic novel Titan), and since the most ancient titans are portrayed as 'better' than newer titans, this 'leak' into the machine-spirit of the Titan might happen gradually even without death (though this could equally well be interpreted as simply being part of the general 'older is better' doctrine of the Cult).

...with the proviso that they could in fact be combinations of the definitions above due to how the 40k universe works belief alters reality.

Baltar
15-02-2008, 15:18
Back when the 40K universe was just being fleshed out, Ian Watson wrote a trilogy called the Inquisition war which had an Inquisitor have an audience with the Emperor. The Emperor had split his personality into over 40 different facets, in order to oversee the Imperium and the fragments were steadily losing their grasp on sanity, as well as suffering in total unspeakable agony in each moment.

I still favor the "alive, insanely powerful, but suffering for all eternity" version of the Emperor.

Talk about dark science fiction - but an insane god who is tortured for every second he allows his race to survive - thats good stuff. Much better than the "more dark in a shallow way" way of thinking that the Emperor is dead and nothing but a figurehead.

Aeolian
15-02-2008, 15:33
The basic premise of 40k is that it is a Tragedy. Mankind went through a golden age which ended around 25000AD. Then came the Age of Strife where we tore ourselves apart. We lost most of our technology and reverted back to often feral levels.

Now as the technology was decaying the Emperor united Earth and went out on a great crusade to a) unify humanity b) guide us in our journey towards a psychic race and c) recover as much technology as possible.

The Horus Heresy extinguished the one light humanity had, and humanity has been regressing ever since. The Imperium's technology level is much removed from even the days of the great crusade and they are heading to obliteration.

The only hope they have is if the Emperor can be reborn.

Battle-Brother Wags
15-02-2008, 21:52
Reborn? Um, well, I already admitted I'm not huge on fluff, but I guess I missed something big . . . is there really a big push in the fluff to get the Emperor reborn?

Baltar
15-02-2008, 22:51
Reborn? Um, well, I already admitted I'm not huge on fluff, but I guess I missed something big . . . is there really a big push in the fluff to get the Emperor reborn?

Some elements of the Inquisition seek to find a suitable host for the Emperor's spirit yes.

Some Inquisitors see great men such as Saint Macharius or Sebastian Thor as partial embodiments of the Emperor's spirit.

Obviously, no mortal man could ever bear the full spirit of the Emperor, but they are always looking for the suitable host for the Reincarnation of the Emperor.

Of course, there is also the other possibility that the "Star Child", the Warp version of the Emperor's spirit that is slowly growing in power and all the while being "attacked" by the Chaos Gods, will "awaken" and pretty much spell the doom of the Chaos Gods and everything that isn't Imperial friendly.

IMHO, people overstate the reliance of the Imperium's ultimate survival on any messianic prophecy of the Emperor's return - the Imperium seems to usually have enough industrial and manpower resources to defend itself.

Kage2020
16-02-2008, 02:32
I think Kage2020 means they have a justification as to why there is no direct continuity between our world and the fictional one, and that justification is sort of a "just accept it" kind of response.
-Stan
Basically, yes. So much of the 40k universe works only if you want to believe it works. It was not meant as a direct comparison to the Star Wars universe but, in many ways, the same kind of themes and assumptions are in play.

LOL. I had at one time hopes that "40k RP" would answer some questions. Instead, much like all of the 40k universe, it has just raises more questions. ;) Go GW! :D

Kage