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View Full Version : Just how bad is the Imperium to live in, excluding external threats?



Jack of Blades
19-12-2010, 03:39
I doubt that the authorities are so inhuman as in 1984, but what's it like?

Gilfred The Iron Knight
19-12-2010, 03:46
From what I'm aware of it depends on where, like in our times, but 1984 would be a good guess at the norm. However replace big brother with the church at the times where heretics were burnt at the stake.

Clockwork-Knight
19-12-2010, 05:45
I doubt that the authorities are so inhuman as in 1984, but what's it like?1984 is paradise compared to living in the 41st millennium as an average citizen of the Imperium. More so if you are one of many billion workers in a cramped hive city.

Of course there's always the one exception where people are really genuinely happy, where people are treated nicely, where the local ecclessiarchs are kinda tolerant, but they're exactly that... exceptions.

The Imperium is at war (since a hundred centuries), and only constant sacrifices where each newborn child is given to the immortal master of mankind, feasting upon their blood and the flesh, symbolizing the hardships of humanity, will ensure victory over the witch, the heretic and the xeno.

Toiling in everlasting ignorance, learning to love the shocking leash, praying and not thinking, such are the virtues that the Imperium teaches. Everlasting duty and loyalty with no desire for pause is the greatest glory one can achieve, and dying for the Emperor ensures that your sanctified head shall become one of the servo-skull servants, your flesh shall be consumed by those lesser man in the hope of attaining your luddite wisdom, your offsprings shall become the very defenders of mankind, leading them as commisars, warrior-nuns and stormtroopers, second only to the sons of the Emperor himself, the angels of death, the space marines.

Do not question the decisions made by superior man. Do not hesitate to throw your lives away at their whims, for they have the celestial mandate given by the Lords of Terra. Mutilate yourself and join the flagellants, implant pain-inducing devices so that you do not sucumb to the sins of feeble flesh, show your devotion to Him on Terra who has commanded that Man shall rule the universe. Do not enjoy the pain, for the Emperor does neither. Let it give you the righteous strength to crush the children of those who would dare to speak of tolerance, of peace, of understanding. Burn these blasphemers. Show them their error by turning them into servitor-slaves. Accept all punishment handed out by your masters, for you deserve it.

To not give your all, to perhaps disrupt the great machine which is the Imperium, the only true representation of mankind, is treason.

And to betray is to be forever lost to Him.

tl;dr
It's a very bad place to live in most cases.

Jack of Blades
19-12-2010, 07:53
Good explanation :p

So, 1984 in the future in which the state has had time to develop its methods, with a struggle for survival added that can only be won (thou shall not question the means of the superior men) by shaping civilisation around feeding more humans into the enemy than they have ammunition. But do they to put it ridiculously mildly mistreat the citizens the same twisted way as in 1984? ie. is the Imperium as malicious and vile toward its own citizens as in 1984 or is it more a case of being enslaved in the name of necessity and expedience? I'm going to assume that like in 1984 people are only given the barest minimums of ''entertainment'', ''food'', housing and everything else.

In the Imperium, life is to suffer and slave on all levels, all the time - the only accomplishment worthy of pursuit (burn the heretics who claim otherwise) is accepting that without question and treating it as your highest duty. And that's just the very bareboned version, you must really learn to love your place, love the emperor, love the treatment you are receiving. I remember reading about whipping the men like cattle to get the cramped, expendable, overworked, suffering crew to do stuff on starships being common practice, worse than being a galley slave... I can see various elements at work here, most notably life could be said to be a much worse version of being a poor and exploited urban worker in some 19th century empire.

Although since you said that 1984 was a paradise compared to the Imperium, I assume that what you mentioned in your post is simply the most basic facts of the Imperium. I'll guess that it would be accurate to say that if all of today's cattle were kept in the worst conditions of today's farming industry, they'd still be better off than the average Imperial citizen in living conditions like food and air quality, with the sheer physical and mental suffering not even being on the radar by comparison. In summary, life in the Imperium can be summarised as a more extensive and longer lasting imprisonment in a concentration camp... but with worse living qualities and more indoctrination etc...... :p

Admiral Koppenflak
19-12-2010, 08:17
It depends on the world, and in a lot of cases it isn't that bad.

Have a read of Abnett's Gaunts Ghosts novels or the source books for Rogue Trader/Dark Heresy. They give a good account of many and varied kinds of Imperial societies, sometimes in great detail. The ONLY rule seems to be universal worship of the Emperor. Free speech seems to exist so long as you dont directly attack the state (the God-Emperor or his Church) and direct intervention of the Church seems rare.

ChaosTicket
19-12-2010, 09:07
Well the Ecclesiarchy will burn you at the stake if you dont worship the Emperor, if you are found somehow disloyal to the Imperium, youll either be killed or enslaved, and many planets are horribly imbalanced like Forge Worlds or Hive Worlds.

Necromunda is about the best way to show the Imperium. High society gets everything and low society gets nothing, the middle work their lives away, but have it better on Civilised worlds than Hive Worlds, or feral world, where people are tribals or barbarians.

Borg451
19-12-2010, 10:03
1984 is paradise compared to living in the 41st millennium as an average citizen of the Imperium. .

Have you read 1984?

Borg451
19-12-2010, 10:05
It depends on the world, and in a lot of cases it isn't that bad.

Have a read of Abnett's Gaunts Ghosts novels or the source books for Rogue Trader/Dark Heresy. They give a good account of many and varied kinds of Imperial societies, sometimes in great detail. The ONLY rule seems to be universal worship of the Emperor. Free speech seems to exist so long as you dont directly attack the state (the God-Emperor or his Church) and direct intervention of the Church seems rare.


This is what everyone keeps missing.

They take the descrptions on pages of the main sourcebook to mean every world ever.. (which leaves no room for imagination)

Korraz
19-12-2010, 10:23
Depends on the world and on the level. The higher middle floors on the Hives should start to be quite nice. Gudrun sounds like a decent place to live. Not to mention Garden and Paradise worlds. Even some Agri Worlds could be a good place.

asphodel
19-12-2010, 13:33
It depends on the world, if it's a hive it depends on your level, and it always depends on your job too. A hive worker might have a pretty crap life, but it would probably be better than an unemployed ganger. Even living on the highest levels too, a servant might have access to ludicrous amounts of luxury, but being treated like crap by the extravagantly rich might not be as enjoyable as working as an administratum clerk and going home with a decent pay and some freedom, albeit somewhat limited.

El_Machinae
19-12-2010, 13:46
It would be awful for us, because we live in a world where you become progressively wealthy as you age (if you're lucky and if you play your cards right). Our governments are ostensibly on our side, and even there's wealth issues, the wealth tends to stay on planet.

The governors are behold to outside forces in 40k, and under tremendous pressure to tithe. This means that they have to tax and ship the wealth off planet, so the money is just ... gone. And those tithes must be paid which means that during an economic downturn, corners need to be cut and those cuts fall on the normal citizen.

Couple that with a government that gives a LOT of power to its police, and it would be a repressive society, with less hope of wealth advancement, and a crushing sense of unimportance.

Kage2020
19-12-2010, 16:24
It seems that the vanilla/standard interpretation of the 40k universe is that it comes down to a Monty Python sketch:

"How do you know s/he's the <insert title here>?"

"Well, s/he's not covered in *****."

And "insert title here" can be anything, from the wealthy, to priests or whatever. It's like a caricature of medieval Europe just with a bit more misinterpretation and grimdarkery. Kind of like someone heard of the "Dark Ages" and then said "Oh, that's the GrimDark Ages!"

Using the same background you can come up with widely divergent interpretations of the Imperium. About all that they can agree on is that it is far more oppressive than modern societies and, like archaeologists thinking about living in the past, it's probably not something that you would want to do when comparing it to the modern world.

Then again, I find the "grimdark" 40k universe that some argue to be about as appealing as the "peaches and light" Star Trek universe that is normally slated in comparison. :D

Kage

Crazy Ivan
19-12-2010, 16:41
I find it hard to rhyme the discrepancies in the fluff here. On the one hand we often hear that the Imperium acts more oppressively than Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and North Korea, and Oceania all rolled into one, but on the other hand it is quite often stated that, although a theocracy, the Imperium is also essentially a feudal state that is quite happy to let planetary governors and populations get on on with whatever the hell they want to do as long as the tithes are payed and the God-Emperor is given the proper amount of respect. Granted, that's not the amount of freedom those of us living in democratic states have at the moment, but that's by no means as bad as the other depiction of life in the Imperium.

Inquisitors are a good example. Some act as special forces operatives, some as CIA-like goverment agents, or even as glorified police detectives, wilst others act like Tomás de Torquemada or Inner Party member O'Brien. Inquisitors, it is often said, are usually left to their own devices in handling diverse situations, with little or no control from their peers or higher-ups.

From that perspective, and combine with the manifest impossibilty of any kind of centralized control of the population in an Empire spread across an entire galaxy, the Imperium doesn't really act oppressive at all; it is just happy to give great power to the capricious, because, in a twisted way, it works.

Ka Faraq Gatri
19-12-2010, 16:42
1984's Britain is actually not a good comparison for even a hive world, because the situation in the novel isn't what folk who haven't read it think.

The lowest classes in 1984 are actually really quite free and happy. They get to live their lives free of state interference and just get on with things. Yes, they're poor and ill-educated and all the rest of it, but they're happy. That's pretty much the point of a huge chunk of the book - when Winston sees how the Proles live, he realises what he is missing.

It's the party members (read: middle class) that have it hard. They are the ones who are constantly monitored, told what to think, and all the other cliches that the godawful "Big Brother" TV programme has rendered meaningless.

In 40K terms, Terra is probably the closest to the 1984 archetype, with the lowest classes across the planet living relatively free as long as they worship the God-Emperor, while the countless Administratum adepts live solely to work, constantly monitored and bombarded with pro-Imperial propaganda.

SgtTaters
19-12-2010, 17:59
I doubt that the authorities are so inhuman as in 1984, but what's it like?

It's like North Korea

Except the wacky over the top propaganda is ALL TRUE

Glorious Leader REALLY DID get a hole in one on all 18 courses of golf on his first try, he IS the only thing holding back the TRAITORS, the XENOS, and the MUTANT. That is the attitude of the Imperium.

In execution though, it varies from dark ages to farm worlds to hive worlds (nobles, middle class, scum, etc.) But the unifying factor is the mindset, they are beset by horrors they cannot comprehend and only the Emperor can save them.

Iracundus
19-12-2010, 21:05
I find it hard to rhyme the discrepancies in the fluff here. On the one hand we often hear that the Imperium acts more oppressively than Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and North Korea, and Oceania all rolled into one, but on the other hand it is quite often stated that, although a theocracy, the Imperium is also essentially a feudal state that is quite happy to let planetary governors and populations get on on with whatever the hell they want to do as long as the tithes are payed and the God-Emperor is given the proper amount of respect. Granted, that's not the amount of freedom those of us living in democratic states have at the moment, but that's by no means as bad as the other depiction of life in the Imperium.


The two are not totally exclusive.

The Imperium may not technically care how Imperial Governors run their planets or what their populations get up to beyond obeying basic tenets of Imperial Law, BUT their tithe requirements may be set up such that anything less than oppression would be insufficient to meet those requirements for the majority of cases.

El_Machinae
20-12-2010, 00:00
Additionally, the governors are under tremendous pressure to not have any xenos or heretics found within their region. Especially because they don't know where there ][ are.

Hellebore
20-12-2010, 00:35
This is what everyone keeps missing.

They take the descrptions on pages of the main sourcebook to mean every world ever.. (which leaves no room for imagination)

You missed what Clockwork-Knight said:



Of course there's always the one exception where people are really genuinely happy, where people are treated nicely, where the local ecclessiarchs are kinda tolerant, but they're exactly that... exceptions.


Those are exceptions, not the norm. Just become some people in the Imperium don't live under 1984esque conditions doesn't mean all don't, or that the comparison is invalid because of that. An outlier is not generally statistically significant.

The majority of the Imperium lives on Hiveworlds and by their nature they are far more totalitarian and harsh. THe constant need to balance population against food supply, the continual struggle for space, the need to produce more for the nobility. All these conspire to produce unsavoury living conditions for all but the megarich.

A hiveworld is like the Imperium in a microcosm, with the majority of its population in cramped dracanian living conditions and a minority with the freedoms and rights only dreamed of by others.

No one is going to say that because a few tens of thousands of nobles in a Hive are living well that all people are living well.

The Imperium is no different. It's a galactic hive city.

Hellebore

madprophet
20-12-2010, 01:11
It depends on the world, and in a lot of cases it isn't that bad.

Have a read of Abnett's Gaunts Ghosts novels or the source books for Rogue Trader/Dark Heresy. They give a good account of many and varied kinds of Imperial societies, sometimes in great detail. The ONLY rule seems to be universal worship of the Emperor. Free speech seems to exist so long as you dont directly attack the state (the God-Emperor or his Church) and direct intervention of the Church seems rare.

In Double Eagle (also by Abnett), we see glimpses of an Imperial world that doesn't seem so bad. Even Vervunhive (Necropolis) was no worse than most big cities today.

Not every world is Necromunda, human beings remain human and even the most totalitarian system must account for this.

ChaosTicket
21-12-2010, 14:53
Oh Overall its Ok, but their are many extremes, like low tech worlds where its medievil or viking, or where the ecclesiarchy decides you dont worship the Emperor enough, or you get conscripted into the Imperial Guard as part of the planetary Tithe.

Its not the regular thats the problem its the extreme, which to its name are extreme and commonly little more than death sentences, like Guard pretty much fight until the die far from home, likely never to return, alive or dead.

Youre lucky if you are on a "nice" world like a middle class agriworld or civilised world, but if you live on a hive world or forgeworld, or even a terrible death world, dont have hopes.

Lockjaw
21-12-2010, 15:24
depends on the world, the Caiphas Cain, Eisenhorne and Ravenor books all have times they're on different imperial worlds, some aren't that bad, aside from the constant 'big brother is watcing'

Exitas-Acta-Probat
21-12-2010, 15:40
what lockjaw said, it really depends on the world and the person.

incarna
21-12-2010, 20:35
The 40k narrative is largely an analogy to the Dark Ages with elements of the Crusades and Inquisition drawn upon for flavor (as well as numerous other historical concepts like Vikings for Space Wolves, World War 2 for IG, etc.). For the average Imperial person your life depends purely on what planet you were born on.

The best way to think of things is in terms of any feudal country in Europe during the Dark Ages. The country was lead by one (usually corrupt, stupid, insane, or impotent) monarch (The Emperor/Terra/The Administorium) who’s only practical function was to utilize their military strength to enforce borders, maintain law, and exert force externally. The monarchy rarely interfered directly in the lives of the average citizen unless whatever priorities the monarchy had happened to require interfering, in which case they did without hesitation.

Below the monarchy was the local government (Duke, Baron, Count, etc.) who varied in power and influence (as well as corruption, stupidity, insanity, and impotence). In 40k they might rule a planet, collection of planets, or an entire sector. These were the guys who most directly touched the lives of the average citizen and would also most directly affect the lives of the average imperial citizen. In some cases they were content to wallow away in their castles/manors/keeps without ever laying eyes on the peasant class, in other cases the rules with an iron boot on the necks of their subjects, in yet other cases they used they saw their assets as tools to be expended in conquests of glory/wealth/power. Ultimately they were free to rule as they saw fit so long as they didn’t cause much trouble and (mostly) supported the monarchy.

Coupled with the monarchy and ruling “middle class” you have the church. The church was structured similarly to royalty in that you had cardinals, priests, friars, preachers and everything in between who ultimately answered to the pope (The Emperor). Where the monarchy might or might not be accountable to predominant religion it usually paid lip service because it was both politically expedient and safe. What’s unfortunate however is that, much like the ranks of monarchy, the ranks of clergy could be just as corrupt, stupid, insane, or impotent as their ruling-class counterparts and occasionally agenda’s would clash leaving the peasantry in the middle… much like living in a house where your father demands you spend your allowance to put gas in his new car and your mother demands you spend your allowance to buy her new jewelry, both parties unwilling to compromise with one another, both possessing the authority to kill you if you disobey, and both completely devoid of any genuine moral of legal authority outside themselves.

The Administorium is far too vast an entity to play any direct role in the lives of the average 40k citizen. Imagine sending in the paper work for your driver’s license only to have it enter the bloated and rusted machine of the Imperium to be returned to you, in some cases, a few to several hundred years after your death. 1984 is not a good analogy in my opinion. The Administration (or “Party” if I’m recalling correctly) in 1984 exerted it’s will with meticulous detail on the minds of individuals for its own sake. The Imperium uses a hammer where the Party uses a scalpel. If the Imperium feels the need to wage a war, they do so regardless of consequence, drafts billions of guardsmen, tithes millions of planets, and simply get to it… the average Imperial citizen be-damned. If the Party feels the need wage a war, they change history to indicate that they have always been at war, it is the duty of the citizen to participate in the war effort, and accepting the war if the right thing for the individual because it is the right thing for the state... they require complacency on behalfo of the individuals heart and mind where the Imperium could give a crap less about the individual heart and mind.

It may seem like I’m splitting hares here but it’s a very very important difference. The Imperium is the Dark Ages set in a gothic religious-technocracy with a dash from out-of-context historical flavors. 1984 is a semi-modern hyper-fascist world. The two worlds share some important similarities but not many.

Idaan
21-12-2010, 21:04
So basically you're saying that Middle Ages and, by extension, the Imperium looked like this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvKIWjnEPNY
Sorry for not writing a full response, but it's pretty late - I'll try tomorrow.
Suffice to say, the system the peasants describe was actually used historically.

Col. Tartleton
21-12-2010, 23:23
I like to think of Warhammer 40k as Catch 22 and no one is laughing. Commissar Cain is the Yossarian and everyone else is crazy or something worse.

Ultrasmurf
22-12-2010, 09:39
In my opinion The Imperium's worlds are very varied The Worlds of Ultramar are probably a lot better then the worlds like Necromundo, Armageddon and Catachan (Not exactly because of Big brother but because every animal and plant on the world wants to eat you).

"daddy look at that plant"
"Little Johnny don't touch that' Last words of a father that chose the wrong vacation

Shamana
22-12-2010, 10:38
I'd sum it up as "the Imperium is a huge thing - no matter you can imagine, it will be happening somewhere." From the gulag-like state of Sepheris Secundus (which I always confuse with Salusa Secundus) to a world that might well be the slashfic of your 5 favourite medieval/dystopian/steampunk movies, to a halfway decent state.

Overall, I'd say there may be some 1984-lookalikes, but they wouldn't be quite the same. The Imperium has no more regard for lives, but iirc in 1984 the purpose of the endless wars was a state of endless war, not to provide a sandbox for the planetary government - if they waste the Imperium's resources inefficiently, they WILL be replaced, at least when the Imperium hears about it. The Imperium doesn't mess around, when it comes to war it doesn't do it just so it has a war - it fights to survive and to win (the two usually coincide). All other considerations are secondary to that. There is also the matter of its peripheral problem - stuff that happens in the fringes would be unimaginable in the Segmentum Solar.

madprophet
24-12-2010, 02:38
I'd sum it up as "the Imperium is a huge thing - no matter you can imagine, it will be happening somewhere."
Very true and one of the reasons the setting is so much fun!


From the gulag-like state of Sepheris Secundus (which I always confuse with Salusa Secundus)
Well it IS Salusa Secundus with the serial numbers filed off ;)


to a world that might well be the slashfic of your 5 favourite medieval/dystopian/steampunk movies, to a halfway decent state.
In other words, what ever the author, scenario designer, codex writer or gamer needs it to be :angel:


Overall, I'd say there may be some 1984-lookalikes, but they wouldn't be quite the same. The Imperium has no more regard for lives, but iirc in 1984 the purpose of the endless wars was a state of endless war, not to provide a sandbox for the planetary government - if they waste the Imperium's resources inefficiently, they WILL be replaced, at least when the Imperium hears about it. The Imperium doesn't mess around, when it comes to war it doesn't do it just so it has a war - it fights to survive and to win (the two usually coincide). All other considerations are secondary to that. There is also the matter of its peripheral problem - stuff that happens in the fringes would be unimaginable in the Segmentum Solar.
Yes, but you could imagine a world like 1984 broken into rival power blocs that would use internecine conflicts as a way to give the gangers something to do while keeping an eye out for real military talent to be funneled into the Guard...

autarch dsaliuvid
24-12-2010, 02:50
it can be as nice anywere.some leaders are nice and some make hitler look like a kitten.

Reganator5000
24-12-2010, 05:12
also its worth noting that Necromunda is a slightly bad example as it is almost directly described as the worst of the worst. most hive worlds aren't quite that bad, are slightly more lawful even in the very depths (or like armegedon the depths aren't as inhabited due to some other reason).

most worlds are likely to be bad in terms of repression, but probably not at stalinist levels where the government knew more about you than you did. its simply not worth the effort for the imperium, as most citisens have no idea of the alternative. there's nothing for them to be plotting to acheive, as they don't know a world where it could be any different.
also basically actual plots against imperial rule will probably be scarcer as they have a much lower success chance, and no real historical precedent that anyone knows of. the cult of the emperor does the job far better than any secret police, and with much less effort and direct 'oppression'.

The Highlander
24-12-2010, 10:20
The way I see it life on most hive worlds would not be that much different from life in one of the industrial towns of Victorian Britain. For most people live would consist of working long boring hours in a factory before heading to the local pup for a few hours and the going back to your cramped uncomfortable home to sleep before starting again the next day.

Remember that Necromunda is about the areas outside of normal law, in the same way as the Wild West was. Remember that during that period most people in America were living fairly quiet lives as farmers or working in a city, not fighting off Indians and outlaws every day.

Col. Tartleton
24-12-2010, 14:52
The way I see it life on most hive worlds would not be that much different from life in one of the industrial towns of Victorian Britain. For most people live would consist of working long boring hours in a factory before heading to the local pup for a few hours and the going back to your cramped uncomfortable home to sleep before starting again the next day.

Remember that Necromunda is about the areas outside of normal law, in the same way as the Wild West was. Remember that during that period most people in America were living fairly quiet lives as farmers or working in a city, not fighting off Indians and outlaws every day.

Exactly. Hive cities are all supposed to be London or New York in a bottle. The boonies however look like Spaghetti Westerns. In between you might have your small town USAs and your quaint European villages. But those aren't the sites for most wars. Generally it's either a major offensive on a highly populated world or a desperate fight for a some unnamed rock on the edge of human space that just happened to get attacked by pirates. Space Marines play a small but important role in the former and a large and important role in the latter. Marines are the only troops that will reach that uninhabited rock in time. The guard take upwards of a year to mobilize most of the time and nowhere isn't worth defending from pirates. However the Marines are on constant patrol as the defenders of mankind and they don't mind crashing the odd party to bust a few heads. I think that puts the marines in better perspective. Most of the time they're woeful overkill or they're just along for the ride in a major campaign. They aren't there to win wars. They're the last remnants of a different time too tough to die out and too stubborn to retire.

Mondo80
24-12-2010, 15:28
Everyone keeps referencing Necromunda as a typical Imperial world, hive or otherwise. But the game dealt mostly with the underhive part of it, basically the sewers of the hive. In current New York city there are abandoned subway stations, warehouses and spaces beneath overpasses that are considered lawless because the cops don't want to go there. Every city or country has its bad parts, and negatives always get more attention than positives.

El_Machinae
24-12-2010, 16:02
You know, the allusion to industrialising London is a remarkably good one. Hats off.

Logan_uc
25-12-2010, 01:33
I like to put things this way, for the average Imperial citizen slavery is a job promotion.