bloody malth said:
This is a time of legends, of demi-gods, and even as the Horus Heresy novels shed light on that era, they maintain its epic mystique. There are seemingly no Marines as arrogant or as powerful as those portrayed in that series and unless your last name is The Sigillite, you will not find any humans who come close to the grandeur of the Marines of that period.
Granted, it's all a matter of perception and interpretation - personally, I don't take the HH novels as an accurate depiction of what happened (and even the novels intentionally contradict each other) - so that if FFG really wanted, they could easily portray a more gritty Heresy era with heroes from the Imperial Army, or even making up new factions on the spot …
… however, it's just not what the HH fans would expect, and given that the primary clientele for such an RPG would be these same readers of the Heresy novels, it'd be a really weird business decision to disregard them just like that. "Tapping new markets" is a valid idea, but it can really work against you when one manages to scare the hardcore fans away, and I just don't think that the already small RPG market could have any studio take this chance.
bloody malth said:
A different approach could be used in a hypothetical Horus Heresy game. Why not start as mortal adolescent combatants whose destiny it is to one day don the power armour of the Astartes? You could start as viking tribesman from Fenris, or gangbangers from Nostramo, or humans inducted into the Legion from a conquered planet. I think the ability to mould your humans into the Space Marines they will become could have great appeal.
That's a rather clever idea! I do remember reading in the Index Astartes that at least in the case of the Dark Angels, they actually took grown-up humans and made them Astartes. It doesn't take much to speculate on the inability of "modern" Space Marines to recruit anything but children being just a product of a millennial quality decline in the "marinification" process, in that a lower tolerance for recruits is how the Astartes deal with the act of creating new Space Marines having become unreliable and shrouded in techno-mysticism.
The one downside I see is that … well, what exactly would people be supposed to play in their campaigns? A "native campaign" would not have to do much with 40k but instead feel like a game of D&D or Shadowrun, whereas newly inducted Space Marines should logically be subject to an NPC superior who gets to boss them around, given that you probably don't just become a Squad Sergeant right after joining a
In a way, I fear it might feel like an artificial delay not dissimilar to Dark Heresy where you're supposed to play the Inquisition … but actually you won't really do so until going Ascension. And how many people would think of some (comparatively) puny natives when talking about a Marine campaign? In this, I feel that Deathwatch did alright in its approach by letting people jump "right into action" as most fans probably expected (there's that e-word again).
On the other hand … you got me thinking: Perhaps there's a middle ground to be found, in that it could be a campaign with lots of time jumps and "phases" that aims to portray a character's entire life within the Legion? The first phase would be training, where the new recruits are presented with a series of challenges and get to form first bonds amongst one another. After gaining a few levels, the game goes WHOOOSH and suddenly you're fast forwarded X years into the future and the characters suddenly find themselves being members of a renowned squad (plus a couple NPCs to fill free slots and provide support) with one of them being the Sergeant. This would be the Deathwatch-like stage, except that instead of hunting aliens your squad is assigned specific goals they have to fulfill on their own in order to help their company achieve its mission objective, usually being deployed in the proximity of NPC squads which you may vox for help or which will vox you for help, presenting optional side-objectives (both would influence the post-mission rewards). Then, the last stage of the game, again X years later, has the players find themselves leading their company, with one of them being the Captain and the others members of his HQ Squad. This stage would open up further strategic gameplay options as outlined in an earlier post.
The bonus: Each of these stages can be skipped, for those players who would like to jump straight into one of the higher tiers. Yet completing a stage on your own would provide substantial bonuses for later gameplay, which would otherwise be replaced by some boring general stuff. Kind of like background packages, just that in order to profit from any epic things you'd have to do them yourself!