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felismachina

Existence of chaos

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I find it odd that in most of the codex and background material they ay that nobody knows a thing about chaos, they purge entire worlds population or execute entire regiments just to deny chaos existence while on the other hand in novels everybody know that chaos exist, know name of chaos gods, even a lowly guardsman troop knows very well what they are up against

 

I wonder how you all interpret chaos in your games. Is it total mystery and nobody talks about this? Something like devil in christianity, they teach it exist but nobody belevies it until he emerge into realspace to wreck havoc? :P Or maybe it's wide spread knowledge that chaos are something akin to witches and pagan cultist in middleage?

Edited by felismachina

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There are various levels. The lowest know there are bad things in the universe, and their faith will protect them, failure to be faithful invites mutation and various other bad things. The next step are those that know that the bad things aren't always stopped by faith, demons exist and they're bad news. The next step know that demons belong to armies of gods. The final step are essentially in the inquisition.

 

That doesn't mean that people can't learn this stuff through exposure.

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I like to think it is an in-between sort. The "Christian devil" approximation is probably pretty close, though I'm sure quite a lot of people did really believe he exists, simply because the Church told them so. Much like people would pray to the Emperor from salvation and interpret good fortune as divine intervention, they might have an irrational (in that their world had zero exposure to it so far) fear of Chaos and interpret bad fortune as the work of the Ruinous Powers - much like people blamed witches for a bad harvest.

 

Most of the discrepancies between the sources you mentioned probably originate in the writers quite simply having different ideas on how things "should" work in the setting, and the artistic freedom to pursue them as part of the IP's rather unique approach to "canon". However, it should be noted that often you could also explain it by the vast distances between worlds, lack of communication, and ensuing cultural differences. Just like the Emperor is venerated as the sun-god on some world, Chaos might simply be represented by some other ancient local legend. Likewise, there are different factions within the Ecclesiarchy and subtle differences on how the Creed is preached, so on one world you could have priests openly cautioning against the Ruinous Powers, whilst on the other those who are aware of the grim truth have elected to keep their sheep in the dark as a means of protecting their innocence.

 

For my interpretation of the 41st millennium, I consider the latter to be less common, though, simply because there's a bunch of quotes in GW codices that would be popular in-universe, and which happen to mention the existence of daemons. From Ecclesiarchal declarations to the Sororitas' Fede Imperialis.

Edited by Lynata

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Warhammer 40k is a universe with no consistent cannon, and it was never designed as such. Codexes, which are commonly regarded as the most "cannon" fluff by fans, simply tell the faction's POV on the universe at best. You are the one deciding what is true and what is false with what you are given. For example:

 

Let us imply for a moment, with all the fluff we are given regarding daemons, xenos and their contacts with mankind, making little sense, that there are no such creatures at all. The only thing existing in 41st millenium is a corrupt, opressive govrnment of Terra, which justifies its regime by making up a picture with space elves, space orks and daemons.

 

With that assumption, a lot of things actually make sense, and dehumanisation of enemy is a trick well known throughout history. "Worshipping chaos will make you insane and a ***** will grow on your forehead" - that definetly explains why, according to their own lies, millions of the Emperor's finest succumb: they've always dreamed about a ***** on the forehead. Yeah, right. And who actually saw those deformed madmen? Brainwashed marines - yeah, that's very reliable. Regular troopers are commonly executed after dispatching "forces of Chaos" to "prevent the taint from spreading". Yeah, one could imagine how that "taint" looked like - they simply saw that humans set free from imperial tyranny are well-fed, better-armed and not treated like dirt. It makes sense to execute troopers after they've seen this - they will be harder to feed with stupid fairy-tales.

It is very possible that Nurgle is a human being, an old king of a non-imperial kingdom, who is simply ill, or not good-looking. Khorne could be a generalissimo wannabe ruler of another free country, a militarist and pragmatist. Slaanesh could be a beloved leader of a normal, democratic country advocating for human rights and decidedly non-imperial morale norms. Tzeench might be a grey cardinal and a true ruler of another country with overcomplicated governmental structure. While it's possible that those countries are also not a paradise to live in, at least they don't need to lie to their people and therefore must be crushed by the Imperium, and that is precisely why so many are indeed choosing to go to their side.

 

It's that simple.

 

Yeah, sure. The hive-city ductwork had a leak, 3 hab-blocks have literally drowned in filth? That's because the money for hive maintenance have been spent on a war with orks! The hive itself, built from cheap materials by incompetent designers, has collapsed? No, it's not caused by corrupt officials who pushed the right papers to grab all the money which was supposed to be spent on construction - it was the space elves who sabotaged it! The entire planet got tired of greedy government appointed by Terra and elected their own ruling body? Exterminatus! Clearly, ruinous powers corrupted them all into madness. Forge world no longer produces anything? No, it wasn't the fabricator who dabbed into dangerous technologies which endangered his entire planet without even understanding them, the planet has been wiped out by tiranid hive-fleet!

 

And that was actually what one of my black crusade characters believed in - that's his POV. Is it better than any presented by GW? Once again, it's up to you to decide.

Edited by Chaplain

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Warhammer 40k is a universe with no consistent cannon, and it was never designed as such. Codexes, which are commonly regarded as the most "cannon" fluff by fans, simply tell the faction's POV on the universe at best. You are the one deciding what is true and what is false with what you are given. For example:

 

Let us imply for a moment, with all the fluff we are given regarding daemons, xenos and their contacts with mankind, making little sense, that there are no such creatures at all. The only thing existing in 41st millenium is a corrupt, opressive govrnment of Terra, which justifies its regime by making up a picture with space elves, space orks and daemons.

 

With that assumption, a lot of things actually make sense, and dehumanisation of enemy is a trick well known throughout history. "Worshipping chaos will make you insane and a ***** will grow on your forehead" - that definetly explains why, according to their own lies, millions of the Emperor's finest succumb: they've always dreamed about a ***** on the forehead. Yeah, right. And who actually saw those deformed madmen? Brainwashed marines - yeah, that's very reliable. Regular troopers are commonly executed after dispatching "forces of Chaos" to "prevent the taint from spreading". Yeah, one could imagine how that "taint" looked like - they simply saw that humans set free from imperial tyranny are well-fed, better-armed and not treated like dirt. It makes sense to execute troopers after they've seen this - they will be harder to feed with stupid fairy-tales.

It is very possible that Nurgle is a human being, an old king of a non-imperial kingdom, who is simply ill, or not good-looking. Khorne could be a generalissimo wannabe ruler of another free country, a militarist and pragmatist. Slaanesh could be a beloved leader of a normal, democratic country advocating for human rights and decidedly non-imperial morale norms. Tzeench might be a grey cardinal and a true ruler of another country with overcomplicated governmental structure. While it's possible that those countries are also not a paradise to live in, at least they don't need to lie to their people and therefore must be crushed by the Imperium, and that is precisely why so many are indeed choosing to go to their side.

 

It's that simple.

 

Yeah, sure. The hive-city ductwork had a leak, 3 hab-blocks have literally drowned in filth? That's because the money for hive maintenance have been spent on a war with orks! The hive itself, built from cheap materials by incompetent designers, has collapsed? No, it's not caused by corrupt officials who pushed the right papers to grab all the money which was supposed to be spent on construction - it was the space elves who sabotaged it! The entire planet got tired of greedy government appointed by Terra and elected their own ruling body? Exterminatus! Clearly, ruinous powers corrupted them all into madness. Forge world no longer produces anything? No, it wasn't the fabricator who dabbed into dangerous technologies which endangered his entire planet without even understanding them, the planet has been wiped out by tiranid hive-fleet!

 

And that was actually what one of my black crusade characters believed in - that's his POV. Is it better than any presented by GW? Once again, it's up to you to decide.

Interesting POV however i try to have consistent universe with my players so no matter which character in which system they play things stays the same. While one character can believe that others may don't.

 

Fluff is so incosistent that's sometimes it's hard to separate what is written from POV and what is true. Or if there is true at all. I was reading about ordo malleus today and it's total contradiction to what is written in most books and current codexes. Now i think that most of knowledge about chaos is "open secret". Most people are unaware of true nature of chaos but they realise it exist. Demon influence may be mistaken for psychic phenomena or heretical cults.

 

I remeber from space marine game that second part of the story involves demons and csm. I doubt they mind wiped whole ultramarines comapany or purged entire forge world populution because ordo malleus says so or any other inquisitor.

 

While i love 40k univers sometimes all that fluff contradictions make me mad.

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Fluff is so incosistent that's sometimes it's hard to separate what is written from POV and what is true. Or if there is true at all.

 

I've collected a few illuminating quotes on that subject here.

 

The consistency you mention is indeed mandatory within a group, as there needs to be a common ground between the GM and the players whose characters move in his or her world. That being said, how this consistency looks like exactly ... that is something that should ideally be discussed with all members of that group, and does not concern anyone else.

 

While i love 40k univers sometimes all that fluff contradictions make me mad.

 

Welcome to the club. ;)

 

I really like consistency as well, so 40k was ... difficult for me, at least as I started to realise that things aren't as clear-cut as a lot of fans kept saying back then. Though, after getting mad all those years ago and then finally having had this epiphany about how the IP actually works (and after hunting down the quotes linked above), I think I've come around to ADB's way of thinking.

 

Of course there will always be my preferred interpretation, and sometimes it grinds my Mechanicus-approved gears how some people keep insisting that some other version of the setting is "more true", but all in all .. let's just say this artistic licence, to which we as readers and players have just as much access as the writers working on official products, at least has the advantage of allowing us to cherrypick what we wish to adopt and what to discard, depending on what fits to that particular image of the setting we grew up with, depending on what sources we've read.

Edited by Lynata

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It's just another of those fun things. Apparently, the Grey Knights are a secret, too, even though all the bad guys certainly know about them, and even a number of the good guys. I can't remember what, but I seem to recall that there is a story where the Space Wolves have a strong dislike of the Grey Knights, even though I'd like to hope the Knights could eat them, if needed (Space Wolves are one of the cheesier Chapters, with their own codex, however, so fan-love will probably forever keep them strong). So, it's a weird question: do most Astartes know who these Space Marines are on sight, and crap themselves upon seeing them (their presence suggests at the worst kind of crap being imminent), or do they flip out when something that LOOKS Astartes, but doesn't match up with their records appears? If you are only IG, whole divisions might be put down for seeing the Grey Knights, pointlessly, unless they also saw what attracted the Grey Knights attention, in which case it might be mercifully. The truth of Chaos seems a similar "secret." Hell, I suppose the fact that the Emperor was a Psyker is probably hushed knowledge; psykers are all monsters, grudgingly tolerated, best killed, and His power is a sign of His divinity, not a connection to the Warp. Oh well, fun, isn't it?

 

This is sort of one of those problems that also keeps me from GMing 40k games. Most of my friends are novices or newbs to the material. I could bugger their brain with all the crap I know, some of it even being right ;), and still they'd be clueless, but then I have todecide what to tell them, how much THEY need to know, and what their characters do, so that they don't metagame unknowingly.

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This is sort of one of those problems that also keeps me from GMing 40k games. Most of my friends are novices or newbs to the material. I could bugger their brain with all the crap I know, some of it even being right ;), and still they'd be clueless, but then I have todecide what to tell them, how much THEY need to know, and what their characters do, so that they don't metagame unknowingly.

 

This could actually be a boon, as things that you as someone more knowledgeable of the setting take for granted might actually be a huge twist for them, possibly resulting in excited "aaahs" and "ooohs" once they get to know it!

 

What their characters need to know is (usually) pretty simple: Not a lot! The worlds in 40k and the cultures of their inhabitants are so isolated that most characters should only really know their own planet very well (in comparison to the rest of the setting). Most of the rest depends on circumstances such as their superiors disclosing helpful information, or their own experiences picked up whilst traversing other worlds and talking to other people.

 

Humans in 40k visiting other Imperial worlds is literally like, say, Marco Polo in China. State religion offers a modicum of common ground, but everything else may lead to significant issues of culture clash. And even religion isn't exactly the same everywhere, what with the Emperor being revered as a tree on one planet, and a sun god on the next.

 

Most games tend to downplay this factor, but I guess this is mostly due to players being "too well informed" about 40k, resulting in only seeing a grey mass of information about "The Imperium" - but if you want to surprise your players, you can really build up the crass differences between individual member worlds.

 

Hell, I suppose the fact that the Emperor was a Psyker is probably hushed knowledge; psykers are all monsters, grudgingly tolerated, best killed, and His power is a sign of His divinity, not a connection to the Warp. Oh well, fun, isn't it?

 

This sort of hypocrisy is part of the Grimdark. But yes, it is but one of many, many examples! ;)

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My Stormtrooper actively decries people as Heretics for suggesting that the Emperor is a Psyker, because he has an irrational hatred for Psykers and other Abhumans and Mutants, viewing them very similarly to a White regarding a Black during the circumstances of Apartheid.

Ignorance is bliss, eh?

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