View Full Version : Which setting has the better background; Fantasy or 40k?

25-10-2008, 13:10
There is a thread in the 40k General Forum where people are asked to write three things that are better in 40k than Fantasy, and three things that are better in Fantasy than 40k. It can be background, models, armies, the actual rules etc.

Many people seem to think that the background of 40k, especially the Imperium, is better than the background of Fantasy. Their main arguments are that the background is deeper and more original.

Do you agree to this? I love the background of both settings, but I fail to see why the background of 40k is somehow deeper. Both settings are a mish-mash of ideas and concepts with different literary and real-world references.

Etienne de Beaugard
25-10-2008, 13:28
Neither background is very original, being as you said, derivative from various sources in fantasy and science fiction respectively. Arguably, 40k is more original in taking the WHFB races and migrating them into space.

In the numerous times I've had this discussion, online and off, the deciding factor is less the originality of the setting and more one's preference for ancient/medieval fantasy vs. space fantasy.

25-10-2008, 17:28
I think that there are more parts of the 40K background that I find original, or rather, that the way that they have put various influences together is original. Most of the Fantasy armies are more obvious generic molds than in 40K. Fantasy background has its high points and its hooks, but 40K has more of those high points IMHO. The strengths of Fantasy lies elsewhere, such as in the rules.

25-10-2008, 17:34
i prefer 40k backgnd though i play fantasy only

25-10-2008, 17:44
I think its all about preferance over sci-fi and fantasy,I play 40k, but I love the rich dark grity feeling of the Empire and other warhammer fantasy races. If you delve in some of the texts of fantasy you get this almost horror movie style feeling. A tiny Empire of humans surrounded by a harsh climate,Chaos warriors to the north, grumpy dwarfs to the east and ogres even further east, ceaseless orc hordes from the south and cursed dead lands. French style dicks to the west and panzy mystical wood elves(need i say more?>) And then to the lands beyond theirs all manner of unspeakable horrors lizardmen more super panzy elfs and then scary emo elfs OMG! Oh and pesk goblins roaming around and then theirs the skaven invading right from the ground itself infesting your toilets and poking you in the butt as you try to take a crap! Now that is a rich dark nightmare for any gothic style medieval fantasy setting almost apoctalyptic in some tales "storm of chaos."

40K has all this too, but I find to much of this in 40k fluff "SPACE MARINES ARE PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWNAGE!BUY MORE SPACE MARINE STUFF!" and so one etc.

25-10-2008, 18:12
I fully agree with Maggoth. It is all about preference. There was a period of time that I thought Fantasy was very unoriginal and would easily prefer 40k without any hesitation in terms of fluff. That is until 3 versions of 40k later and still like 90% of the fluff I run into is about Space Marines. I think that is eventually why I got out of 40k... the Space Marine overload. Atleast with Fantasy there are some individual pieces of fluff that are fun to read even if the entire thing as a whole isn't super original. On top of that, it's varied and touches upon a lot of different races.

26-10-2008, 06:35
I like both a great deal <. .> because both leave me vast amounts of room to do what I do best - screw with stuff >.>b I decided to stick with Fantasy for other reasons; but background for both games is in my opinion quite awesome (not original - but that doesn't preclude awesome)

26-10-2008, 07:01
I am a complete fantasy-buff and have never liked sci-fi. I also only play WFB, partly because of it`s superior rules. That being said, I actually prefer the 40K- fluff, as it goes a lot more into detail and seem a lot richer, with limitless room for expansion. I also have to admit the 40K minis released these last years have been much much better than the fantasy ones.

26-10-2008, 10:26
I fully agree with Maggoth. It is all about preference. There was a period of time that I thought Fantasy was very unoriginal and would easily prefer 40k without any hesitation in terms of fluff. That is until 3 versions of 40k later and still like 90% of the fluff I run into is about Space Marines. I think that is eventually why I got out of 40k... the Space Marine overload. Atleast with Fantasy there are some individual pieces of fluff that are fun to read even if the entire thing as a whole isn't super original. On top of that, it's varied and touches upon a lot of different races.

I like Space Marines, but I agree, for an institution with supposedly a one to two
million fully paid up membership, there seem to be an awful lot of them running around and being encountered, especially when you consider the size of galaxy, and travel times.

26-10-2008, 13:33
I used to read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, and always found the 40K background superior to the WHFB background, mostly because the vision behind the 40K universe was a more original take on the sci-fi genre than the WHFB take on fantasy. On the other hand, I, as many others find WHFB a much more intriguing game than 40K.

Therefore, I would like to claim that for many this is not a fantasy/sci-fi debate as much as the outcome of perceived quality. The WHFB game is more tactical than 40K, and 40K brings more originality to its genre than the WHFB background does. I find "fluff" and "background" interesting, but on its own merits. There is no need for me to defend "my" choice of game system with "my" background preferences.

I have not read any of the Black Library stuff, but I would still like to point out that WHFB background would not need to be so bad, just think of WHFRP, which is a much more detailed and grim view of the Fantasy world than what pops up in the army books. I think what plagues WHFB background is what plagues bad sci-fi; that clichés are used to represent entire nations or realms (in really bad sci-fi cases - entire planets). Likewise, game design in the 40K universe can be really good, and I find that "my" vision of the 40K universe easily translates into a fabulous game system - Epic Armageddon.

Not everyone can write good fiction/background/"fluff", and I guess that the more gifted individuals in this particular field have left/are leaving GW. I also feel that there is a much more pronounced symmetry between "fluff" texts/stories and the rules. It seems like the writers feel the need/are told to include rules/equipments/special characters into the texts themselves. This is a major mistake. Tolkien once said something to the effect that one of the reasons for including the history of Middle-earth as history and songs in LotR was for there to be a mystery, an outspoken source of "more", not yet all.

The texts I remember from the RT and Space Marine (old style Epic) eras did not emphasize equipment options, not even army options. There was this feeling that the soldiers/armies did partake in something more than the actual game. The game represented skirmishes/battles in this universe, and was necessarily restricted in order to make game play possible. Today's game philosophy seems to try to include "all". We, as background readers, are told "everything". Every named character of importance is an army choice (irregardless of game system). The problem is that once we know "everything" there is no need for us to come back. Background should not be encyclopedic.


26-10-2008, 15:20
I personally like both backgrounds, with possibly a slight lean towards Fantasy cause I've always enjoyed that setting a bit more.

There is however...hmm not sure how best to word it...a lot more scope? with 40k, as it has a whole galaxy and beyond to play with rather than a single planet. I think a lot of the people who slate Fantasy and praise 40k see that larget scale/scope and assume it must be better...but quality wise in my opinion both are good.

Krom The Eternal
26-04-2009, 03:18
fantasy hands down

26-04-2009, 03:52
I'm not hugely fond of either of the backgrounds, as I feel both take too much from some places, and not enough from others. That being said, I've always loved the iconic status of some elements of Fantasy. A Dwarf Slayer, for example, stands out FAR more to me then a Space Marine Chapter Master.

As for the rules, I prefer Fantasy.

26-04-2009, 06:10
Prefer the 40k background, as long as it doesn't go into Marine overload. The theme of races, the imagery and all of that works better for me; while I originally liked FB better, it has just ended up being somewhat bland. And I haven't really read any interesting FB background pieces for ages...

But it all boils down to choice, whatwith both games digesting other fantasy, history and litterature thingies and put it in a stew approach.

26-04-2009, 12:58
40k feels grander and think the idea of putting fantasy stereotyps into space was inspired.

However, GW's writing for the 40k background is often dreadful. For example, if you compare the background in the 2 respective daemon books the fantasy one is far better written and generally seems a more mature and well realised version of the concept.

26-04-2009, 13:18
Same as some others have said, whilst neither setting is particularly original, 40k just has a lot more going on and has developed an in-depth varied universe with a very unique life of its own. Fantasy by contrast, whilst having some cool ideas, has little to define itself from other Fantasy backgrounds. Fantasy is also very static, everything, every race is tied down to a very specific location and culture, with little variety or change occurring over time.

26-04-2009, 13:24
I like both, obviously since i wouldn't be playing the games if i didn't, but 40k probably comes out on top. This is entirely personal preference however,as i like sci-fi more than fantasy.

26-04-2009, 13:31
I dont even play 40K atm as i find fantasy far superiour as a game.

However i think the 40K background is far more compelling and the horus heresy is an epic background piece.

26-04-2009, 14:55
The 40k background are the best. I believe everyone absolutely LOVE the Roman Empire in space :D Which is what the 40k Imperium of man is. :)

Space Romans here we go! Ultramarine ftw!

But I like the fantasy-setting to. The best of the both settings is the way they do not invent anything but everything are inspired and created from real world history.
The truth is better than the story. No fantasyworld, or sci-fi world, are never as good or exciting than those very similar to our own history. :)

26-04-2009, 20:18
I think you will find at least a slight majority will agree that the 40k background is more original, even if that originality is derivative of many predecessors, it creates something fairly unique and distinctive from it. It is an epic and diverse universe with its own peculiar feel, issues, and technologies.

That is not to say that fantasy background is bad; there are aspects of it there are indeed very characterful and that I like importing into other settings (say DnD). For example, I love the histories and lands of the various Elven races; the vampire/tomb king lineages are quite cool IMO; the 4 chaos gods and their daemonic beasties create some nice dichotomies; I like the different races of orc-and-goblin kind. The skaven are a fairly unique invention too, and most amusing. Some people critcize it, but I like that the lands have been made analagous to the real world, that way we can import cultural and geographic significance to the setting without it being any less fantastical.

However, the setting starts from a place of generic fantasy, and I find that though the Germanic and Renaissance-era technology of the Empire gives it some unique flavor, I still have trouble getting a real feel for it. Also, the pervasive grimness can sometimes drain the color out of the landscape. The way fluff is created to emphasize the war-aspects of the world (quite understandably) can take away from developing more unique cultural flavor, though some of the Warhammer novels try to make up for that.

Lord Of The Avatars
26-04-2009, 20:31
if im going to be honest, i cant pick. i mean, i love fantasy because of the miniatures but like 40k for the story. so either way they are both win!!!:evilgrin:

26-04-2009, 20:38
40k has the better background by far, Fantasy doesn't really have one big story but more of a collection of small ones, I know the tyranids, necrons and tau don't fit in with the main story, but you still feel its more part of one story than fantasy. The Horus Heresy is a fantastic story, as good as any sci-fi. The true power and menace of chaos is far better represented in 40k, more subtle.
When you add a new army to fantasy it upsets the background much more than in 40k due to the fact one is a planet and one is a galaxy. So thats why I think fantasy is more of a collection of small stories as several have been "shoehorned" in over the years

Jabroni the Wise
26-04-2009, 20:59
Oh boy, 40k. Where Space Marines are out to kill evil things and Tyranids/Chaos/Necrons are out to destroy the universe entirely. How could I resist?

Fantasy is better in all aspects.

Darklord Yorke
28-04-2009, 20:24
40K definately!!!

It has loads of conspiracies in it - What has fantasy got??

Goblin smacks human
Human says "ouch!"

28-04-2009, 20:31
Fantasy I think.
More army books = more lore.

But if you factor in all the Black Library books.. then I would assume 40k.

28-04-2009, 23:51
Fantasy > Space Marines

Or at least thats how I see it.

29-04-2009, 00:18
Even if you take the Imperiums history out you've got the fantastic destruction of the Squats (space dwarfs) by the tyranids for example. Gw didn't like the army or the models so had an alien race come in and eat a whole species, fantastic.

29-04-2009, 00:19
40K background is much better than fantasy background in general. The empire, for example is much more generic and dull than the oppressive imperium, and Orks are far more interesting than O&G in fantasy, who are nowhere near as coherent and just seem a mishmash of colourful toys rather than different greenskin empires. Plus, 40K has titans. Nothing in fantasy comes close to the epic scale of battles you can play with these guys.

Having said that, I rate the DEvsHEvsWE fluff as some of the best stuff GW have, and taken in isolation, I rate it better than anything in 40K.

Necromancy Black
29-04-2009, 00:28
The 40k background is one of the greatest I've ever seen. The problem is sometimes that specific books contradict each other but overall it's got the greatest atmosphere ever.

Pity the game itself can't hold up to fantasy :p

29-04-2009, 00:39
I like fantasy the game and fluff alot more then 40k theres just so much more depth to it instead of imperium of "PRAISE THE EMPEROR AND PASS THE AMUNITION" and thats it

29-04-2009, 01:00
I like fantasy the game and fluff alot more then 40k theres just so much more depth to it instead of imperium of "PRAISE THE EMPEROR AND PASS THE AMUNITION" and thats it

yes. this is exactly my feel on 40k, when they say "In the grim dark future, there is only war!" they really mean the "there is only war!" part fantasy pulls more on the epic heroic tropes of fiction than 40k does.

29-04-2009, 01:04
The only 40k fluff I really like is the Imp. Guard stuff. Dont really like the SPEEEHS MARINES!!!!!!!!1!11!!!1 and how no matter what when the SPEEEHS MARINES!!!!!!!!1!11!!!1 show up everythings okay. And truth be told with me the Horus Heresy is a tad overplayed yeah its an interesting fluff piece but come on what else ya got?

Fantasy I like how it provides different view points(40k does this a bit) depending on the armybook. ex. War of Vengeance/War of the Beard. It also has a bit more realism/thought besides SPEEEHS MARINES!!!!!!!!1!11!!!1. Some of the stuff other than a few glaring mistakes are believable in the setting.

On second thought maybe I just dont like SPEEEHS MARINES!!!!!!!!1!11!!!1?

29-04-2009, 01:04
Fantasy has the better background IMHO, there is less good vs. evil stuff and more with each race having both evil and good parts. I also appreciate that the truley evil races such as Chaos and to some extent Orcs and Goblins actually do something damaging for once instead of dying in droves at the hands of the Imperium's Finest. They came close to something interesting with the Maccrage plot, but fell short when the Ultramarines managed to pull through, aka they should have died it would have been cooler. So far the coolest thing was the Squats death, for once something "good" died.

it's coming this way!
29-04-2009, 01:25
I would say that 40k has better background, there's just more to it, and I agree with the earlier point comparing the Empire to the Imperium. The overall shade of 40k is much darker, and on the whole more interesting (the inquisition is IMO cooler than anything fantasy has to offer) -

That being said, I would rather involve myself with fantasy. So, 40k is better background, Fantasy is better foreground!


29-04-2009, 01:51
It's weird, it has kind of flip floped in the last few editions. Rogue Trader was very un-serious, and 5th Edition Fantasy was a lot darker than it is now. Heck, even the thirteen year old Skaven book still has that darker feel to it than the newer books.