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A Post-Imperial Galaxy - A Thought Experiment

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#21 Lynata



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Posted 10 September 2013 - 06:12 PM

Personally, I do not see the death of the Astronomican posing more than a temporary nuisance for the forces of Chaos. Even if they would use it to navigate the Empyrean (which is possible, seeing as it essentially acts as their goal line, a huge psychic light calling "this way to Terra!"), we have to keep in mind that the Astronomican's effect may well be replicated. To me, psychic powers are not unique, and if said beacon acts like "a light in the Warp" that is strong enough to be seen from anywhere through the Warp, then this sounds suspiciously close to the light-like presence that any potentially psychic species has, with actual psykers shining much brighter. In theory, I could well imagine a powerful Daemon Prince or perhaps a Daemon Primarch replacing the Astronomican with his own corrupted presence.


As for a post-Imperial galaxy, contrary to most I think it could make for an interesting background. We simply have to accept that it would be a very unfamiliar one, which I think is both frightening as well as potentially exciting. For an example from another sci-fi setting, the new "Legacy" era of Star Wars features a very different setting that is still heavily influenced by what one may know from the movies or older books, but at the same time feels refreshingly new in that it features entirely new factions, or had existing factions evolve into something that one may have never expected.


I would predict that Chaos would play a much more important role in such a setting, however, and that it would be a very different game. I do not believe that a "Chaos Imperium" would exist for long without splintering into countless factions all at odds with each other. Chaos is inherently self-destructive in that it encourages strife rather than cooperation. The only way to bring multiple followers of Chaos together would be either by brutal force or by pointing everyone at a common enemy. With the Emperor's death, the latter would be gone, and the former would be impossible due to the sheer size of the current IoM. The result would be countless local warlords all with their own armies and strongholds and allegiances and alliances. And the best thing: This is just like their gods would want it.


So, I think campaigns in such a setting could be like a mixture of Black Crusade and Rogue Trader, where the players attempt to impress their NPC lord and master by fighting his or her enemies, all the while plotting a coup to someday take over. Alternatively, it could be like a twisted version of Dark Heresy where players are bounty hunters eradicating the last remnants of the forbidden cult of the dead Emperor; common people who grew up in a Chaos-dominated society but who were picked by an influential Chaos lord for their skills and talents.

And then of course there could be campaigns where the players instead play as members of a local resistance, be it humans or aliens, or even an alliance that, in the face of Chaos as everyone's enemy, transcends the xenophobic racism that has dominated interspecies relationships for millennia...


The potential is there. All you need is to do is figure out how to use it. :)

Edited by Lynata, 10 September 2013 - 06:38 PM.

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#22 Korrh



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Posted 25 September 2013 - 09:15 AM

The end of Astronomican won't be fatal for the Imperium. Check Rogue Trader Navis Primer: it seriously helps, boosting success by 20%, but having a stable route and maps you'll get to your destination just fine (no warp storms, though). 

Death of the Emperor will open the Webway entrance/exit (Golden Throne), full of demons, so Terra is pretty much gone with Administratum. Mars will follow shortly after. Will there be a new Eye of Terror and new Chaos God? That would be cool.


In Night Lords novels the vision is that humans will ask Eldars for help, but that should be taken care of by union of Night Lords warbands.


In Horus Heresy: Legion novel Cabal foresees that Horus, winning the battle, will turn against other marines later and in 2 generations humanity will be gone. That didn't happen, so Alpha Legion actions will, most probably, turn the tide of the last battles in favor of either chaos (Abbadon's Black Crusade) or remaining loyalists.

It's said that if Emperor "wins", the stagnation of Imperium of Man will last about 10-20 millenias. Considering that in the last W40K tabletop wargame it's written that AdMech have found unrepairable damage in Golden Throne, I wonder if Games Workshop will have balls to continue the story during our lifetime.


If all that happens, most of humanity will die and remaining planets will be like Q'Sal or agriworlds.

Edited by Korrh, 25 September 2013 - 09:17 AM.

#23 Archontremaine



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Posted 11 January 2014 - 04:51 PM


Chaotic ships in no way use the Astronomican, [...]

[citation needed]


I remember a short story about an Imperial ship being followed in the Warp by a chaotic ship, to which the ship's captain remarks it's theoretically impossible. Imperials, deprived of the Astronomican, would be lost, yes. Heretics have since long developped methods that simply do not require it at all. You can have your interpretation of the fluff, sure, but most of the written material makes me pretty sure that what I say is "canon".

If you know of the way the forces of Chaos navigates in general, you've got me bested. By all means, explain how they do it, or cite a source.

And remember: we're not talking about rational people here. I don't picture most Heretics willingly guiding themselves with the Corpse-Emperor's nightstand lamp.

And why wouldn't they? Pride? The Astronomican is hardly a "nightstand lamp" - it's an enormous psychic beacon that is at a fixed location in both the Materium and the Immaterium - something that, as far as I know, doesn't otherwise exist.

While I do not contend that there are other ways to navigate the warp, because there certainly are several ways, all which are incredibly taxing or otherwise inefficient, to say that the forces of chaos have "since long developped methods" to navigate the Warp is unfounded hogwash.

The more powerful servants of Chaos (CSM, Daemon Princes, etc) surely stick to techno-arcane sorcery and the favours of their dark masters, of this I am sure and fully agree with you on. But not only is only a comparative minuscule amount of humanity truly dedicated to the dark gods, but even the vast majority of those, the Lost and the Damned, would not be directly favoured by their black patrons, nor have access to means of travel aside from what they had when they left the Imperium, but more importantly; they have no cause to abandon this form of transportation for as long as the Astronomican remains, nor direct access to the resources needed to make the transition(s) needed once it's not.




The FIrst Claw series mentions using the 'dark shadows' in the warp rather than the Astronomicons light, and that navigators had to be trained how to do it, using riskier currents and routes. Whether this was just them, or a Night Lords thing in general, or a wide spread Legion ability, is not made clear.

#24 bogi_khaosa



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Posted 11 January 2014 - 11:14 PM

Black Crusade explicitly states (somewhere) that Chaos vessels, at least in area like the Eye of Terror, use other means that the Astronomicon.

#25 Fgdsfg



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Posted 12 January 2014 - 12:45 AM



If all that happens, most of humanity will die and remaining planets will be like Q'Sal or agriworlds.

I was always under the impression that the most common planet in the Imperium are the ones designated as Imperial Worlds, and those are generally stable and relatively self-sufficient (as much as any can be in a galaxy-spanning empire).

Agri-Worlds have great potential for expansion, but the only planets I foresee having enormous problems surviving on their own are the Hive Worlds and Forge Worlds, the former far more so than the latter, and I can see the Forge Worlds in particular forming small pocket empires.


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#26 Ansalagon



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Posted 13 January 2014 - 10:58 AM

I still hold that so much chaos influence will result in all necron tomb worlds online.. and then my 'crons would wipe the slate clean XD


But on a different note, should the astronomicon ever go offline, then the nids won't be swarming towards the center... maybe would even stop sending their fleets... but that just a thought...

#27 Calgor Grim

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 07:29 AM

Thing is though, messages take an incredibly long time to get anywhere. The Emperor could die any time now and nobody would likely realise. A lack of contact with the Astronomicon could be due to warp storms etc. Nobody outside of a few lightyears might discover his demise for a very long time. Additionally it's not like anyone would dare put out a broadcast openly for fear of the repurcussions.


Odds are humanity would isolate and withdraw back to its little corner where possible. Anything that got cut off would probably isolate and try to communicate with nearby systems. There is still space travel but without clear navigation and the warp they would need to use alternative measures, perhaps similar to Tau technology which just skims the warp for a boost. So perhaps colonies of human would advance and develop to form their own groups. Already some sectors do actually have discussions with xenos and make alliances. With the Imperium likely unable to police the human worlds, they would be free to pursue their own agenda. Many worlds though would likely fall to chaos or other alien incursion.


Terra itself and the surviving Imperium would probably continue to decay. Period of mass mourning, still nobody understanding technology...


The Nids, agreed without the light which drew them in originally, some more of them may choose to leave. Alternatively though many might continue. There are still human worlds rich in resources for them to feed upon, undefended etc.

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#28 WilliamAsher



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Posted 15 January 2014 - 09:06 PM

Interesting debate.  Here are my thoughts.


In Rogue Trader, Elseway Charts allow travel without the Astronomicon.  They are capable of being created today, but are rare due to agreements with the Navigator houses.  My group has a sizable collection, and just founded a Cartographer's Guild to start copying them.  Their goal is to have enough to outfit every ship and spares for their allies in case something happens to the Astronomicon or warp storms make it impossible to see.  They are a bit tricky, but not dangerously difficult to use.  They would be an option for smaller areas of space.  I could also see Navigators acting like the old Mississippi pilots, each owning a small route using their charts and switching out when you leave their area of space.  I am not sure if it would actually be slower or faster, as I believe the charts can give you a bonus to your main Navigation check.


In Rogue Trader there is an Archeotech device called a Void Abacus that allows warp naviation without a navigator.  Being that it is a Dark Age of Technology device it was obviously capable of operating without the Astronomicon.  It is limited to 5-10 days jumps though.  The Navigator Houses ruthlessly supress it, but it exists and I imagine that the Mechanicum uses them for missions they want to stay hidden.  In an emergency, study of such a device might eventually yield some helpful answers.


An Astropath can generate a smaller version of the Astronomicon that can be seen for light years.  This would allow local travel, and could be used by a group of worlds to create a series of beacons that you could navigate by.  Of course, if the Emperor dies what happens to the Astropaths who are soul bonded to him???  If he ascends, do they die or are they empowered?  If he just dies, do they?  This option depends on that answer.  Either way, they would all likely know of his death/rebirth/ascention as it happened.  It would be very hard to keep that information secret, especially if they all died.


Inequity has a 'Dark Astronomicon' that pirates use to find it fed on souls and run by daemonettes.  Such an option could be expanded for Chaos.


As far as the Nids, they might lose their focus to head towards Terra and just start jumping from high biomass world to high biomass world.  It would actually make them less predictable, and therefore more dangerous. 

#29 Ansalagon



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Posted 28 January 2014 - 01:04 PM

As far as the Nids, they might lose their focus to head towards Terra and just start jumping from high biomass world to high biomass world.  It would actually make them less predictable, and therefore more dangerous. 

Well, from my understanding, the 'Nids aren't predictable at all.. and does sometimes skip certain worlds (though i believe that it is hinted that it might because they aviod necron tombworlds, at least in the old codex).. besides, they more or less are coming from all sides... That said, Robbed of the beacon, the nids might have touble bringing in new hive fleets (not that they don't have plenty XD)


On a different note... If the nids come from a far away place where they have harvested all biomatter and are feeding on itself, and sunligth (or something like that) but couldn't move to new places... then suddenly see a bright light where there re new food, could the 'nids just be going for the Emperor, so that they could learn how to make such psychic beacons so their conquest could spread further? or why are they so interested in the astronomicon?

#30 Traejun



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Posted 16 February 2014 - 01:35 AM

Been working on a system I call 1AE (After Emperor) for some years now.  I'm a huge fan of the 40K story (even more than the setting).  So, the prospect of advancing it in a post-apocalyptic way has always appealed to me.

#31 InquisitorAlexel



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Posted 18 February 2014 - 12:23 PM

I read some texts (sorry, I don't have the source for what I say, but you do what you want about it) that speaks about using stable warp routes that are charted. Using these routes do not need the use of the Navigators. With navigators, you can go all the way you want (but there are dangerous places, so the navigators try to use stable places, but can't be lost because of the beacon).


Otherwise, I've read many times about navigators and psykers that could use the Eye of Terror as such a beacon, but it was "risky for the soul" so yeah, it's possible to do effectively without the astronomican, but the astronomican (except the eldar's webway) is the safest way to navigate the warp.


For the Hive Worlds' survival; it is also written in many texts that they work principaly on recycling foods and stuff. We took for granted that hive worlds can't survive without exterior help because of a few populare examples. 

#32 Drachdhar



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Posted 25 February 2014 - 01:57 PM

Big loooong thread so, not read it all and sorry if I repeat stuff...


1. Abaddon´s 13th Crusade is prophesied to be the end of the Imperium of Man.


2. And old "theory" which circled back in 1st and 2nd edition of 40k was that of the Star Child. What is in the Golden Throne is just a remnant of the Emperor, the rest of his power gestates in the Warp waiting to be reborn. Should the physical form of the Emperor finally be destroyed the Emperor will be reborn.


3. As for other potential "leaders" of the Empire of Man should the Emperor bite the dust. Leman Russ is probably still running around barking at cars and howling at the moon somewhere. Rowboat Girlyman could come back somehow as well, though if he is just Alpharius in disguise, who knows... no way Girlyman actually killed the real Alpharius though... Adding to that, what are Alpharius and Omegon up to?

Then there are the Sensei, the literal immortal loin children of the Emperor. Maybe one of these end up leading mankind in its darkest hour. Malcador probably was/is one of these.

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