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xibo
03-09-2006, 14:10
Looking at the pub banner at the local GW i just took note that now fantasy warhammer is also showing a skull on the rulebooks cover...
I'm just wondering what a skull is supposed to mean... or why all 40K armies but tau and nids somehow have skulls as details? I can understand Khorne Marines collect Skulls for him, or SOME Ork/Dark Eldar pirate clans and SOME Guard Regiments use it as symbol, but currently everything 'human' and Orc has a skull on it like Eldar reapers and next to all Dark Eldar... while necrons are space skelletons.

EDIT: Of Cause I meant orKs, and dark ELDAR.

sigur
03-09-2006, 14:11
It's just a GW thing. It doesn't stand for anything just for Heavy Metal, loud engines, big weapons and such. Don't try to see some "reason" behind everything in 40k.

Velkyn Kyil
03-09-2006, 14:31
You might say it symbolises death, as that's the meaning I would attach to it in our world. I guess it's a meant to intimidate the enemy and remind them that everyone can die in 40k.. I dunno....

xibo
03-09-2006, 14:53
You might say it symbolises death, as that's the meaning I would attach to it in our world. I guess it's a meant to intimidate the enemy and remind them that everyone can die in 40k.. I dunno....
yes, or better 'dead' than death ( (conscript) guy with flamer stands always in the first row and no normal infantry model has more skulls on it than him ). But however, the enemies of humanity are the witch, the heretic and the alien.
-Witches will most probably not confront any armies, unless they are strong enough to be able to ignore what their enemies look like (And the arbites have aquillas instead of skulls)
-Heretics might get animated if they see death symbolics
-Alien Skelletons ( besides eldar ) look different than human ones and therefor the skull has no effect to them.
The skull might have the 'death is imminent' effect to the own troops...
And there is a drawing in the old guard codex showing a priest with a book (their bible?) that has a skull on its front ( *maybe the rulebook, opened at the page that asures him he's not in charge range* :D )
Also IMO Gundrones are a much better sign for death than flying servo skulls.

Pertinax
03-09-2006, 15:26
SKull=death=grim and gritty.

It's a wargame about killing things, after all, no? And the skull does suggest death and a certain gothic grimness about things.

Kymmerus
03-09-2006, 15:26
I think keep thinking of something that I read that the skull icon to the Imperium is in some way connected to its manifest destiny to rule the galaxy... its kind of like saying "By the virtues of this, the HUMAN braincase, shall the galaxy bend to our will" along with the more macabre image of "We're going to kill you to make that happen"

As far as Eldar and Orks or any other humanoid race displaying skulls or severed heads, its just a symbol of bad-assedness... I mean you take the head off of most humanoids and you've killed em... clear message there...

Eldar though obviously see the skull as a symbol of death... and that seems to fit with the whole Dark Reaper I'm death incarnate angle...

lonepilgrim
03-09-2006, 15:32
The skull has traditionally represented death and mortality in art and literature. It shows life is finite and the limitations of knowledge. They were popular in Northern Renaissance art (which also had Gothic influences). I think a lot of the imagery of 40k comes from John Blanche who had a traditional art education and would be aware of this link. It helps to make the 40k universe 'darker' than some others. Of course it so so prevalent now that it is starting to be parodied. :D

t-tauri
03-09-2006, 15:55
40k also associates the skull with the Necrons and the racial fears of death. That's a 40k fluff reason. Fantasy draws heavily on Northern European art where the skull has the usual associations with death.

Codsticker
03-09-2006, 17:08
I for one can't stand the oodles and oodles of skulls all over the place. There ever-prescence (?) on the new building sprues (there is even skulls on the lamp posts :rolleyes: ) has completeley turned me off buying any.

ThousandPlateaus
03-09-2006, 17:42
What?! Come on, guys - 40k is a Gothic wargame, skulls are High Gothic symbols of Vanitas and mortality - a key reminder that all things must end, and that time in which to excel is short; they point to the ultimate llimits of man and that each must do his best to ensure that the legacy of man continues in their absence.

They're also the casket of the brain and mind - man's ultimate tool, and his superior rationale over beasts, nature and (some) aliens. The brain has high significance in 40k because the soul has already been sworn to the God-Emperor; the mind, however is allowed to symbolically remain as personal testament to said superiority of man - which is why it's also used for decorative purposes - for example tanks and buildings will be bedecked in the skulls of previous operatives or workers in order that they remain as stern reminder of duty to current operatives and workers, or that some of their great knowledge and experience will amass.

It was quite a common feature of many Historic periods, and now sadly forgotten.

Dais
03-09-2006, 18:07
skulls are prominant in imperial society to remind the citizens that the galaxy was built on the blood sweat and tears of living humans.
i would also think that seeing images of mortality so frequently would A: desensatize you to the horrors that can occour when life is cheap, and B: remind you that 7 systems away some poor joe is dieing to an ork choppa on a deathworld so you can stand under that streetlamp in safety.

VetSgtNamaan
03-09-2006, 18:29
I tend to think that the skulls remind the average citizen that thier life and soul belong to the emperor they all would be dead but for his glorious sacrifice so many millenia ago.

Pain
03-09-2006, 19:13
I think keep thinking of something that I read that the skull icon to the Imperium is in some way connected to its manifest destiny to rule the galaxy... its kind of like saying "By the virtues of this, the HUMAN braincase, shall the galaxy bend to our will" along with the more macabre image of "We're going to kill you to make that happen"[...]

IMO you're right.
The Human Skull is part of the official iconography of the Imperium. I think it symbolizes mankind. The winged skull also called memento mori in W40K literature (afaik not identical with the realworld memento mori (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memento_mori)) is a common symbol on Buildings, vehicles, uniforms etc.

ArtificerArmour
03-09-2006, 19:58
It's also unmistakeably the skull of a human being, or similar humanoid. You dont see many humeri or femurs being used do you.

Malphax
04-09-2006, 02:33
Memento mori.

Pretty much sums up the Imperial attitude, really.

insectum7
04-09-2006, 03:29
Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well...?

or is is Horatio?

Skulls man, because it's a skull! Probably the most universal symbol of death, as it is the empty vessel of consciousness past.

Malphax
04-09-2006, 03:49
It's Yorick.

luchog
04-09-2006, 18:04
It's Yorick.

The correct quote is "Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio. A fellow of infinite jest, most excellent fancy." (And no, I did not have to look that up.)

One of the things I liked about the Eldar is that they are not so festooned with skulls. Not that I have a problem with the skull theme, as others have said, it's traditional for most Western cultures; but that's the problem, it's too common. I do like the High Gothic aesthetic, and it's modern Gothic counterpart; but for gaming/fantasy realms, i tend to prefer designs that don't depend so heavily on Anglo-European iconography.

Festus
04-09-2006, 18:43
Hi

A skull is the symbol of death, most often used to secure oneself in his position. The reasoning goes: *If death is already with me (skull), it doesn't need to come to me now."

That is why many people in dangerous professions/habits display skulls in their group imagery (even if they often don't know it themselves /are not aware of it).

On a side note:

Mementum Mori and Vanitas are concepts from the Baroque, which followe the Renaissance and are most notably much later than anything which may or may not be called gothic...

Greetings
FEstus