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    Chapter Master Karak Norn Clansman's Avatar
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    May 2011
    Karak Norn

    Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?

    Games Workshop's worlds of Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40'000 have long since had a reputation for sheer utter cruelty, mind-boggling malice and harshness built into the worlds themselves. Small wonder, given how both are based on real human history, and how they are both inspired by heavy metal rock album covers, Dune and so on, refined by various learned minds and talented hands, not least John Blanche with his distinctive style. Age of Sigmar started out with a hopeful note in the background story, yet grim darkness seems to be on the rise there as well at the moment.

    A harsh world of conflicts and unforgiving hatred makes for a great backdrop scene for stories to play out on, allbeit when taken overboard it also limits the stories that can be told by shutting out subtleties with barriers of bottomless animosity (e.g. the watertight barriers between uncorrupted Dwarfs and Chaos Dwarfs in WHFB which makes any interaction other than violence most unlikely).

    Loved and loathed, whether hailed as exquisite narrative settings or exaggerated to the point of "grimderp", the grimdark is a strong feature of Warhammer settings' backstories.

    Do you have any favourite concepts of grimdark? It could be moments of stories or bizarre artwork or models, and they certainly need not be from Games Workshop settings. If pictures are involved, then please share!

    What made me post this was my brother coming up with a 40k-ish RPG character idea yesterday, of a cyborg who had died in his robotic harness, yet whose exoskeleton steams on with dead weight strapped inside it. That jokingly-intended zomborg must come close to the top of most grimdark concepts I've ever stumbled across. In official background, the Daemonforged Hellcannon with ammunition of mortal souls ranks in the very top, and that concept continues to inspire many Chaos Dwarf stories to this very day (it's got fantastic and inspiring narrative reverberations).

    And likewise for 40k with its Golden Age of Technology human civilization's most advanced and psyker-tolerating worlds being the most ripe targets for Daemonic forces through Psykers, while only superstitiously backward and witch-hunting colonies survived: The grim darkness is written into the very structure of that universe.

    As to artwork, these two pieces spring to mind, among a host of others:

    And a random Blanche artwork, because mention of grimdark wouldn't be complete without his lifework of art:

    And outside GW yet inspired by its worlds, an honourable mention goes to Disciples of Lughar in the Ninth Age, i.e. Daemonically possessed Infernal Dwarf berzerkers on fire, here illustrated as a K'daai Cultist with glowing runes carved into his flesh, by Helblindi. Lovely over-the-top grimdark idea and visual:


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