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The Inevitable One
31-12-2010, 00:29
Generally, if there is some sort of creation, there is going to be some sort of inspiration behind it all. That being said, I was wondering which forces in the Warhammer 40,000 realm, have a counterpart in the real world? Cultures, people, land geography, movements/ideas, etc. It can be any force such as the Tyranids to a sub-force such as the Dark Angels or Black Templars.

This is what I was able to come up with so far:

Space Marines = Monks or Priests
Black Templars = European Knights
Dark Angels = Hebrew and Native American
Space Wolves = German, Viking, and Anglo-Saxon
Blood Angels = Renaissance
Ultramarines = Greek
Imperial Fists = Roman
Thousand Sons = Egyptian
Word Bearers = Mesopotamian (Akkadian, Babylonian, Sumerian, Assyrian, etc.)
White Scars = Mongols or nomadic Eurasians
Sisters of Battle = Nuns
Orks = Apparently I have heard German?
Tau = Indian and Japanese (both modern and feudal)
Inquisition = Catholic Spanish Inquisition
Necrons = Egyptian?

Anyways, what cultures, movements/ideas, and people do you see in our world that influence the Warhammer 40,000 realm?

Chem-Dog
31-12-2010, 04:09
While you're right in a very broad sense, it's not actually as easy as picking a single cultural influence, 40K factions tend to be a combination of different influences that fit a certain type of archetype these sources are then plundered for clever name references and whatnot. As such they are incredibly subjective to what the reader picks up and what he doesn't....

I'll take issue with a couple of the examples you've posted by way of example.

Dark Angels really haven't got any significant Hebrew or Native-American cultural identifiers.
The Hebrew thing is entirely down to the fact that many of, if not all of their characters have a Hebrew name. At which point you say, yea Chem, the point is proven, but it isn't, nothing but the names are lifted from Hebrew and without exception each and every one of them is the name of an Angel (or a demon, which is much the same really).
The Native American thing comes entirely from two named individuals in an ancient fluff piece called Deathwing. The Individuals are Lucien and Ezekiel who before being recruited into the Dark Angels were known as "Two Heads Talking" and "Cloud Runner".
Names are not enough imho, or we'd be saying the Dark Eldar had Greek (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talos) influence.
Not that it informs this subject particularly well but GW have stated that Cypher is based on The Stranger from High Plains Drifter.


Ultramarines and Imperial Fists. It's interesting that you should decide to pick Greek and Roman for each of these separately as it was said with the release of a SM codex (one of the last two releases, I forget which) that there's a combined classical design element in the range that draws from both rather than either. Obviously the original Space Marine Legions are less than subtle reference to the Roman Legions (even down to the two Missing legions, I'm lead to believe). Beyond the generally rather fluctuating aesthetics of the Astartes there isn't much that defines either Legion/Chapter as Roman and/or Greek. Yes, the Imperial Fist have Phalanx but this doesn't help much as it's a Greek word.


Finally. Orks.
This German thing really does boil down to a rather mild case of anglocentric racism, I'm afraid. Some early Ork models were given a number of German army style pieces of equipment such as the Stahlhelm, Stielhandgranate (still seen today, Stikk Bombz) and even the half-track design of the War-trak (http://www.solegends.com/citcat911/c2087orkwartrak.htm) and Scorcha (http://www.solegends.com/citcat911/c2086orkscorcher.htm). You could say that the Orks were loosely based on the "football hooligan" stereotype of late 70's and early 80's Britain, the shorthand being a generally loutish and anti-social group that enjoys drinking a lot and fighting for the sake of it.

Of course this is all as much a issue of personal intepretation as anything else, but hopefully you get where I'm coming from.

Edit:- I forgot to mention my personal favourite "Clever name". Inquisitor Karamazov. :D

Nazguire
31-12-2010, 04:38
Generally, if there is some sort of creation, there is going to be some sort of inspiration behind it all. That being said, I was wondering which forces in the Warhammer 40,000 realm, have a counterpart in the real world? Cultures, people, land geography, movements/ideas, etc. It can be any force such as the Tyranids to a sub-force such as the Dark Angels or Black Templars.

This is what I was able to come up with so far:

Space Marines = Monks or Priests
Black Templars = European Knights
Dark Angels = Hebrew and Native American
Space Wolves = German, Viking, and Anglo-Saxon
Blood Angels = Renaissance
Ultramarines = Greek
Imperial Fists = Roman
Thousand Sons = Egyptian
Word Bearers = Mesopotamian (Akkadian, Babylonian, Sumerian, Assyrian, etc.)
White Scars = Mongols or nomadic Eurasians
Sisters of Battle = Nuns
Orks = Apparently I have heard German?
Tau = Indian and Japanese (both modern and feudal)
Inquisition = Catholic Spanish Inquisition
Necrons = Egyptian?

Anyways, what cultures, movements/ideas, and people do you see in our world that influence the Warhammer 40,000 realm?

Thousand Sons also have a strong Aztec influence in their background as well, something that Dan Abnett stressed when he was announcing that he was writing the Space Wolf side of things for the Fall of Prospero Duology.

Ultramarines are Greek and Roman. A classical feel as Chem-Dog said. In the release of 4th Ed Space Marines, the designer notes stated as much.

I always saw Orks as Cockneys. Barely translatable dialect, urging for a fight, loud and raucous, etc (the typical stereotype popular culture throws around) added onto a brutish green monster.

I always saw Dark Angels as more Feudal Knights just as much as I see the Black Templars as crusading Knights from the real-world Crusades. The Angel theme for their names merely reinforces their title (Dark Angels) and their past background that GW has given them.

Blood Angels are Renaissance Italian themed in terms of names, aesthetics, etc. But that's just my view of course. There is also a lot of Catholic in them too (Holy Grail, Shroud of Turin, etc)

White Scars are fairly cut and dried= Mongols and the Huns.

Space Wolves can be lazily classified as Vikings in Space, but they are really an amalgamation of every barbarian European culture (Vikings, Scythians, Huns, etc). It's just that it's far easier for GW to cater for the mass audience by stating they are essentially Vikings in Space.

I saw Imperial Fists as more 16th-18th Century German (or...that region.) than Roman. There is also a fair bit of Latin in them too I reckon.

Chem-Dog
31-12-2010, 06:02
I always saw Orks as Cockneys. Barely translatable dialect, urging for a fight, loud and raucous, etc (the typical stereotype popular culture throws around) added onto a brutish green monster.

Although not exclusively the case much of the received press about hooligans in the 80's was that of the larger firms that followed the london clubs (Milwall's Bushwackers and Spurs' Yid Army famously clashing on pitch).

I appreciate non residents will find it hard to differentiate but what the Orks speak is far removed from Cockney (which almost qualifies as a patois) and owes more to a far more generic, phonetically lazy english.

dragonet111
31-12-2010, 09:30
Edit:- I forgot to mention my personal favourite "Clever name". Inquisitor Karamazov. :D

Mine is Torquemada Coteaz.

In game http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Torquemada_Coteaz

Real life http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomás_de_Torquemada

[lexus]
31-12-2010, 16:02
Imperial Guard in general: WW2 Russians.

Imperial Guard Death Korps of Krieg: WWI Germans.

Cadians, mix of modern American infantry and Russians. Also, Creed seems to be based on characters like Patton.