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Thread: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?

  1. #1
    Chapter Master Karak Norn Clansman's Avatar
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    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:


    Cheers!

  2. #2
    Stick figure on a beach Arnizipal's Avatar
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    Re: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?

    Having started a Dark Elf army last year, I find that with them GW really went into "Grimderp" as you put it.
    Druchii society simply cannot work the way it is described. I'd rather see them as slaving hyper-fascists than have every single Dark Elf soldier be a sadistic, mustache-twirling villain.

    That said, I've recently gotten into 40K and I must say the whole background story of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy is a true example of how Grimdark should be done.
    Despite the best intentions of the Emperor and (most of) his Primarchs, the Imperium was basically doomed from the start.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?

    Quote Originally Posted by Karak Norn Clansman View Post
    Wow, that is grim, got any more like that? The flagellants hanging themselves is pretty shocking too...

  4. #4
    Stick figure on a beach Arnizipal's Avatar
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    Re: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?

    Check the WFB main rulebook art from 7th and 8th edition.
    It's filled with creepy weird stuff like this.
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    Chapter Master Rogue Star's Avatar
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    Re: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arnizipal View Post
    That said, I've recently gotten into 40K and I must say the whole background story of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy is a true example of how Grimdark should be done.
    Despite the best intentions of the Emperor and (most of) his Primarchs, the Imperium was basically doomed from the start.
    Human nature, yadda yadda...
    “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” - William Shakespeare
    “Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torment of man.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
    “We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.” - Oscar Wilde

  6. #6
    Stick figure on a beach Arnizipal's Avatar
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    Re: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Star View Post
    Human nature, yadda yadda...
    Or a very old-skool punk "NO FUTURE!"
    Most of GW's background has its roots firmly in the depressing eighties after all.
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  7. #7

    Re: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arnizipal View Post
    Or a very old-skool punk "NO FUTURE!"
    Most of GW's background has its roots firmly in the depressing eighties after all.
    I guess it depends on where you were. I thought the 80s were a blast and certainly the movies and music were a hell of a lot better. Lot's of variety, too.

    As for the topic at hand, "grimderp" takes it.

    There's a point at which GW's sexless violence pr()n descends into self-parody.

    That point was reached about 20 years ago.

    You have to have some kind of contrast for art to stand out. It's all fun and games to make your entire universe Nazis vs Commies, but at least you can show individual heroes fighting for a bad cause. But to do that you need nuance, a sense of human frailty and some semblance of realism. If not realism, plausibility.

    That's why I've always thought of the 40k universe as a wargame setting rather than a narrative one. Too many of its facets are just plain silly.
    Last edited by Commissar von Toussaint; 04-09-2018 at 22:14.
    Want a better way to fight fantasy battles? Try the revised and expanded Conqueror: Fields of Victory!

    Do you like Star Wars but hate the prequels? Ever wish someone came up with a decent story about how a decadent galactic commonwealth descended into chaos and civil war? Look no further.
    A proud player of 2nd edition 40k.

  8. #8

    Re: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?

    Well my main background is video games and especially the early Metroid series had some hardcore grimdark going on that you wouldn't expect from a Nintendo title. Particulary Super Metroid stands out in this regard. The series is heavily influenced by the Alien movies, and it shows. It is this grimdark nature that has, in my opinion, Metroid as one of the best Nintendo franchises. Spoilers following!

    It's not enough that the setting is dark and depressing and eerie, ominous music is playing in the background. The protagonist, whom you play, is a trigger happy, genocidal bounty hunter who fights for peace in space and mainly does this by putting a bullet between the eyes of anything she encounters, many of which are sentient beings. Her achievements include eradicating several entire species, bringing down an empire of hostile aliens and killing her own friends that had been corrupted by Chaos. Any planet or space station she sets foot on is screwed because she'll likely blow the entire place up in the end. Some highlights include:



    In Metroid she goes on a killing spree on Zebes, blowing up wildlife and enemies alike, and killing the leader of the Space Pirates, which results in a huge explosion that exterminates all Zebesians on the planet. A data file later confirms this:
    "All ground personnel are presumed dead, either killed by the Hunter clad in metal or in the subsequent destruction of the underground facilities."


    This leads to the events of Metroid Prime where she chases the fleet and personally executes the injured survivors of a crippled Space Frigate. She then lands on Tallon IV where she proceeds to eradicate the entire Space Pirate presence there.


    In Metroid Prime 2 she investigates the disappearance of a squad of Galactic Federation soldiers on an uncharted planet. She finds that they are all dead, killed by a race called Ing that stem from another dimension. She promptly blows up the dimension, condemning the entire species to death.


    In Metroid Prime 3 the Space Pirates return with a vengenace and start an all-out war, though this time they are actually controlled by an evil, corrupting force. Her friends have already been corrupted and she has no choice but to put them out of their misery. She then joins the fleet and travels to the origin of the evil power, blowing up the planet (heavily implied to be sentient), again killing an entire species.

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    In Metroid 2 she is tasked with killing the eponymous Metroids on the distant and uninhabited planet SR388 who are deemed too dangerous and a threat to galactic peace simply because they are very powerful and might be harnessed for evil. Remember this is a Nintendo game. So let me rephrase it for you. The point of the game is to commit genocide against an entire species because they might involuntarily become a danger one day. Needless to say, the protagonist succeeds, personally exterminating every single individual of the species, including the Queen who was ancient and the very first Metroid to exist. Metroid Queens are very protective of their offspring, so killing her children was outright cruel.


    In the previously mentioned Super Metroid, the Protagonist is forced to return to Zebes because the Space Pirates have reopened their facilities there. As before, she proceeds to kill anything and everything. She kills Crocomire by dumping it in a pool of strong lava that melts its flesh right off its bones. Later, after she kills the Space Pirate Commander, Draygon, its children appear and carry its mutilated corpse away. As she inspects the remains of an ancient, crashed spacecraft she is attacked by the grotesque fused souls of the crew who died in the crash and cannot move on to afterlife because they are enslaved by an interdimensional space monster. Yeah. A Nintendo game. In the end Zebes blows up, killing every single life form on the planet.

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    In Metroid: Other M it is revealed that the Galactic Federation themselves are salvaging the spoils of all these events and are secretly developing a bioweapon program which consists mainly of enslaved and cybernatically enhanced (read: mutilated) Zebesians and various other grotesque cybernetic monstrosities. They are also carrying on Space Pirate research and breeding cloned Metroids as a weapon of mass destruction. Yes, those are supposed to be the good guys. Hello grimdark. Uncharacteristically the space facility is not blown up and the protagonist has no legal power to stop them so the bioweapon program secretly resumes after the events of the game.

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    In Metroid Fusion it is revealed that the exterminated Metroids had been an important part of the SR388 ecosystem because they held the far more deadly X-Parasites in check, so the Metroid extinction led to an outbreak on a planetary scale. Later a space station is infested. These nice critters have a habit of possessing an organic host, digesting them alive, and retaining their genetic data in order to perfectly mimic the now-dead host, though usually they modify the appearance in order to have more deadly properties. They can also freely combine genetic data of previous hosts, leading to the emergence of fairly disgusting chimeric abominations. Humans were found lacking in the strength department so they were mainly used as food, leading to the death of the entire crew. The only remaining trace are genetic hybrid X, called Zombie Researchers. In the end the protagonist, overwhelmed by their numbers, crashed the space station on SR388, igniting the planet's atmosphere, killing every single organism. Yay!

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    Last edited by Ultimate Life Form; 09-09-2018 at 18:05.

  9. #9

    Re: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?

    Right, but the point of the game is to blow things up in spectacular fashion. You don't need rainbows or deep plot for that. Most first-person shooters/combat games pretty much let you whack everything on the screen. I'm mean that's the point.

    And I get the need for all-out violence in a wargame setting as well. Both of GW game settings are basically one giant arena where improbable creatures beat each other up endlessly without result. (Well, I guess Warhammer Fantasy had a result...)

    But it's a boring setting and while I find most of the artwork funny in a dated adolescent never-kissed-a-girl kind of way, I don't consider it to be quality work.
    Want a better way to fight fantasy battles? Try the revised and expanded Conqueror: Fields of Victory!

    Do you like Star Wars but hate the prequels? Ever wish someone came up with a decent story about how a decadent galactic commonwealth descended into chaos and civil war? Look no further.
    A proud player of 2nd edition 40k.

  10. #10

    Re: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?

    Quote Originally Posted by Commissar von Toussaint View Post
    Right, but the point of the game is to blow things up in spectacular fashion. You don't need rainbows or deep plot for that. Most first-person shooters/combat games pretty much let you whack everything on the screen. I'm mean that's the point.
    Yet there's still a difference between being a policeman and fighting against terror organisations, as for example in the Resident Evil series, and blindly following orders that are, as I have demonstrated, often quite questionable. A preemptive genocidal strike against an entire planet is not something I'd expect the good guys to do. Remember that Samus is not part of the Galactic Federation and not bound to obey them in any way unless she willingly chooses to do so. Yet she happily hops from planet to planet incinerating anything and everything with miniature thermonuclear explosions. At what point do you become worse than your enemy?

  11. #11

    Re: Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ultimate Life Form View Post
    Yet there's still a difference between being a policeman and fighting against terror organisations, as for example in the Resident Evil series, and blindly following orders that are, as I have demonstrated, often quite questionable. A preemptive genocidal strike against an entire planet is not something I'd expect the good guys to do. Remember that Samus is not part of the Galactic Federation and not bound to obey them in any way unless she willingly chooses to do so. Yet she happily hops from planet to planet incinerating anything and everything with miniature thermonuclear explosions. At what point do you become worse than your enemy?
    I'm not familiar with the game, but does it involve a lot of interpersonal relationships?

    The reason I ask is that most combat/shooter games focus on combat and shooting (go figure). DOOM, for example, wasn't real big on subtle negotiations. You saw bad guys and killed them. Sounds like the game you're talking about only on a larger scale.
    Want a better way to fight fantasy battles? Try the revised and expanded Conqueror: Fields of Victory!

    Do you like Star Wars but hate the prequels? Ever wish someone came up with a decent story about how a decadent galactic commonwealth descended into chaos and civil war? Look no further.
    A proud player of 2nd edition 40k.

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