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Nirgal

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 hi, i'm new to Warhammer 40k universe so i've found some difficulties preparing my campaing for my group and my ignorance about the setting is very frustrating ^^ what more frustrates is how manuals assume to much seemingly dodging some important notions that for those like me are very obscure, thankfully google the god-emperor knows a lot of things but some knowladges i still fail to grasp.

for ex. reading the starting adventure "Illumination" i've found some serious problems reading the enemies entries, the Hexlid or Shale Crows aren't described O_O  Dustdog are only described as some kind of biped mount leaving everything to imagination.

is there a place to look at those kind of things, like a site a manual or wathever that can give me a better understanding of the setting (laws, what says the imperial creed, transports and ways of travelling, better insight into communications and adeptus astra telepathica and Scholastica Psykana, and above all what the hell is an Hexalid XD )?

 

thx

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Most of the things you mentioned are in the rulebook, you just have to look carefully. Also, Inquisitor's Handbook covers some info on religion, transportation, accomodation and many more. Creatures Anathema is good for beasts and Daemnons and Disciples of the Dark Gods is nice for different kinds of adversaries.

As a source of knowledge I'd recommend Lexicanum: http://wh40k.lexicanum.com

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Reilly said:

Most of the things you mentioned are in the rulebook, you just have to look carefully. Also, Inquisitor's Handbook covers some info on religion, transportation, accomodation and many more. Creatures Anathema is good for beasts and Daemnons and Disciples of the Dark Gods is nice for different kinds of adversaries.

As a source of knowledge I'd recommend Lexicanum: http://wh40k.lexicanum.com

actually i couldn't find any serious information in both the core book and Inquisitor's Handbook. For ex. Imperial Creed is discussed without any actual reference to a creed or a series of tenents to its core, every religion can claim some moral as its own that is shared by its various cults, sects and factions (for ex. how to interact with society, what is considered immoral or auspicable) while the only reference of those basic notions i found are "the emperor is god" and "the empire is cool", even the description fo the "Glorious Choir" says that the cult emphatizes the more "pleasant" aspects of Imperial Doctrine but what actually those aspects are or what are the "unpleasant" ones eludes me.

Creatures Anathema seems to me just a sum of 3 or 4 enemies with a few lines of descriptions, luckly a friend of mine has eldars and orks codexs so this isn't a big problem.

Still wondering what actually is an Hexalid, i couldn't find anything about this beast O_O if i overlooked something in the core book can anyone pls direct me to the page or the section of the manual with the description?

 

thx

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I'd second Reilly's suggestion of the Lexicanum -great site for research.

As for the rest, one thing you'll learn about 40k is it's big, really really BIG. What's more, is most of that bigness has yet to really be defined. There's been some words tossed out here and there, some ideas and superficial treatments made, but for the most part, the setting outside of a battlefield is still mostly virgin ground. There's a tone of pulp novels written in the 40k setting which, to a degree, help define it but they also tend to contradict one another and other sources of information turning the whole affair into a pick the interpretation you like and leave the rest situation. While I wish some more work would be done on certain aspects which are still only vaguely defined, it dose free you up to do what you'd like with the setting bassed on it's rather vague parameters.

To some of your questions in a more specific nature: the Hexlid actually spawned a long thread some time ago where people were trying to figure out just what the hell the damned thing was and what made a 'corrupted" one different from a regular one. I think the consensus that was reached was that of a rather toadish creature, though i might be completely wrong. Suffice to say, the only place a hexlid appears anywhere at all is when the corrupted one shows up in the Illumination adventure -make it what ever you will. The same goes for the Dustdogs.

Imperial Law is still something that is rarely if ever touched on in most any publication. Based on the fact that it is so massive, ancient, and convoluted that no one could ever hope to know it within their own lifetimes, not having it strictly defined is a permissible thing. Just keep in mind a few basic tenants with matters of Imperial Law:

1: the Imperium doesn't care about individuals, it cares about planets.

2: Individual planets can govern themselves how ever they wish and do what ever they want just as long as the Cardinal Laws are upheld (pay your tithe when directed to, offer your psykers to the Black ships when directed to, don't have dealings with the Enemies of the Imperium, and control your mutant and psyker populations).

3: Most all Imperial Law is derived from the above four cardinal mandates as, again, that is all the Imperium cares about. Murder in and of it self isn't an Imperial Crime (heck, it's anything from a fun pastime to a religious experience for a lot of the Imperiums officials!). However, murdering a member of the Adeptus Terra could be as that would be damaging/squandering the resources of the Emperor and thus a crime or impeding an Agent of the Emperor about their duties since killing them would defiantly keep them from preforming their Emperor given duties and doing such would place you firmly in the "Enemy of the Imperium" camp. Likewise, murdering the head of the Planets counting house could disrupt the planets annual tithe which, again, would be an Imperial crime, not because you killed someone but because you prevented the tithe from being met. Though, in the latter case, you'd probably face extreme opposition and punishment from the Governors men as opposed to the Arbitors as it's the Governor's head that would end up on the Arbitrator's chopping-block if the tithe isn't met.

4: To everything in 40k, there is always an exception! In relation to the Imperial Law, there could be a planet somewhere that, as part of the condition for it joining the Imperium, a condition agreed to by the Emperor himself when he still walked the stars, every man, woman, and child on the planet is extended the protection of the Emperor in the most immediate sense making killing anyone on that planet a crime and afront to the Emperor and numbering the one who preformed the deed amongst the Enemies of the Imperium.

On the matter of the Imperial Creed, even less has actually been defined about that then with Imperial Law. In fact, to my knowledge, almost nothing has really been done with it beyond "The Emperor is God and He's just swell!"

When it comes to the creed, you have to remember that the Imperial Cult is not one religion but a massive mindbogglingly huge collection of religions grouped under one umbrella. The Imperium fallows the same expansionist policy instituted by Christianity especially in it's younger years. It will basically mutate and warp it self to match the prevailing belief structure of the peoples the missionary is looking to convert and in doing so, birth a new religion. The Ecclesearchy doesn't much care what the specific tenants of a faith are, so long as that faith proclaims the God-Emperor (by what ever name or gender they ascribe to him) to be above all else and the most swell guy in all the universe, and as long as said faith doesn't advocate nor lead to dealings with the Enemies of Mankind, then it'll be let into the fold and its tenants added to the bloated schitzoperinic mess that is the Imperial Creed. Nothing more then what you've already read has been added or expanded on in an official manner in regards to the Creed. It's open ground for you to explore as you see fit.

In my game and vision of the universe, i did establish that, at the core, the Imperial Cult adheres to a set of Cardinal Virtues as well as acknowledging a set of corresponding vices. The virtues are:

Courage: for a man must be willing to loss everything he holds dear for the betterment of the Imperium if it is to prevail against the Enemy.

Ignorance: knowledge is a curse that will cast you from his light if your mind is weak or your soul lacking. Trust in your superiors and their dictates for they know more then you ever will about the Matter and have been judged capable of handling burden of the knowledge that they are cursed with so that your soul might remain pure and clean.

Faith: to lose ones life and the lives of a billion others is noting compared to losing ones Faith in he on Terra. Te former will only add the deceased to His strength and serve His purpose while the latter undermines His goals and His servants aiding the Enemy all the while.

Cruelty: As they say, cruelty is the kindness of the wise for no other lesson stays in the mind like the one that burns and strings. Be cruel and the weak shall perish (which is good for them for if they continue living a weak and incompetent life, not only will they be miserable but all around them as well!), their taint removed from the Imperium that they might weaken it no longer, while the strong prosper adding their strength to He On Terra's and the race on the whole.

The Vices

Cowardice: for to give into fear to such an extent is to place one's own desires above that of the God-Emperor and opens one's self up to the Enemey allowing them purchase to control you and undermine His Work.

Knowledge: The knowledgeable mind questions, the questioning mind doubts, the doubting mind fails to act. Knowledge gives the Enemy a purchase from which he can manipulate you mind, your soul, and your action. Those who Know are cursed. Shun them if they be the hermit, pity them if they be the slave, but fear them if they be In His Service for they have been judged to be strong enough to accept the weakening knowledge and still be strong enough to act in his service and are, as such, your better in all things.

Doubt: Knowledge can lead to doubt but so can lies and the evils of the Logician. To doubt is to fail to act or be manipulated in acting in a manner counter to His Will and such always serves the Enemy.

Mercy: mercy coddles the weak and allows their weakness to spread like a disease and weaken the Imperium on the whole. To show mercy is to allow a traitorous hole to be opened in the His Defenses against the Enemy.

This is a very nebulous universe and no one knows much about it when you get down to brass tacks, though the longer you're burred in it, the more comfortable you'll become with all of it's oddities and vagaries ;-)

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 I do agree.  As much as I love the dark heresy products, one of the things I do get annoyed at is monsters for which there is no picture.  

I'm creative enough to fill in the blanks, but a good picture goes a long way.  

 

As for the cultural details of The Imperium, the blanks can be filled in by thinking about the themes of Dark Heresy.  The Imperial Creed is supposed to be self-contradictory and complex to add to the feel of the near-absurd fanaticism of the setting.  As a result, as the GM, you get to make it whatever you want it to be at whatever moment and do so near arbitrarily.  Give players extra xp's for taking the self-contradictions in stride, they're truly playing in character.

Imperial Law and Administratum procedures are similar.  

It's a mess done a million different ways in a million different places with inquisitors who pop up, declare you heretic, and then burn you alive when you do things wrong.  I love it. 

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OnceFatal said:

 

It's a mess done a million different ways in a million different places with inquisitors who pop up, declare you heretic, and then burn you alive when you do things wrong.  I love it. 

 

 

Psh!  Don't fill his head with half-truths!  You forgot about the times when they show up and burn you alive for doing things right as well!

Edit: and for the benifit of the OP, here's a nice colection of "Thoughts for the Day"; fortune -cookie wisdom from the Imeprium.  Reading over them should give you a good idea as to the mental state of your common Imperial Servant and go a long way to various aspects of the gargantuain setting falling into place:

Thought for the Day

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Graver said:

I'd second Reilly's suggestion of the Lexicanum -great site for research.

As for the rest, one thing you'll learn about 40k is it's big, really really BIG. What's more, is most of that bigness has yet to really be defined. There's been some words tossed out here and there, some ideas and superficial treatments made, but for the most part, the setting outside of a battlefield is still mostly virgin ground. There's a tone of pulp novels written in the 40k setting which, to a degree, help define it but they also tend to contradict one another and other sources of information turning the whole affair into a pick the interpretation you like and leave the rest situation. While I wish some more work would be done on certain aspects which are still only vaguely defined, it dose free you up to do what you'd like with the setting bassed on it's rather vague parameters.

To some of your questions in a more specific nature: the Hexlid actually spawned a long thread some time ago where people were trying to figure out just what the hell the damned thing was and what made a 'corrupted" one different from a regular one. I think the consensus that was reached was that of a rather toadish creature, though i might be completely wrong. Suffice to say, the only place a hexlid appears anywhere at all is when the corrupted one shows up in the Illumination adventure -make it what ever you will. The same goes for the Dustdogs.

Imperial Law is still something that is rarely if ever touched on in most any publication. Based on the fact that it is so massive, ancient, and convoluted that no one could ever hope to know it within their own lifetimes, not having it strictly defined is a permissible thing. Just keep in mind a few basic tenants with matters of Imperial Law:

1: the Imperium doesn't care about individuals, it cares about planets.

2: Individual planets can govern themselves how ever they wish and do what ever they want just as long as the Cardinal Laws are upheld (pay your tithe when directed to, offer your psykers to the Black ships when directed to, don't have dealings with the Enemies of the Imperium, and control your mutant and psyker populations).

3: Most all Imperial Law is derived from the above four cardinal mandates as, again, that is all the Imperium cares about. Murder in and of it self isn't an Imperial Crime (heck, it's anything from a fun pastime to a religious experience for a lot of the Imperiums officials!). However, murdering a member of the Adeptus Terra could be as that would be damaging/squandering the resources of the Emperor and thus a crime or impeding an Agent of the Emperor about their duties since killing them would defiantly keep them from preforming their Emperor given duties and doing such would place you firmly in the "Enemy of the Imperium" camp. Likewise, murdering the head of the Planets counting house could disrupt the planets annual tithe which, again, would be an Imperial crime, not because you killed someone but because you prevented the tithe from being met. Though, in the latter case, you'd probably face extreme opposition and punishment from the Governors men as opposed to the Arbitors as it's the Governor's head that would end up on the Arbitrator's chopping-block if the tithe isn't met.

4: To everything in 40k, there is always an exception! In relation to the Imperial Law, there could be a planet somewhere that, as part of the condition for it joining the Imperium, a condition agreed to by the Emperor himself when he still walked the stars, every man, woman, and child on the planet is extended the protection of the Emperor in the most immediate sense making killing anyone on that planet a crime and afront to the Emperor and numbering the one who preformed the deed amongst the Enemies of the Imperium.

On the matter of the Imperial Creed, even less has actually been defined about that then with Imperial Law. In fact, to my knowledge, almost nothing has really been done with it beyond "The Emperor is God and He's just swell!"

When it comes to the creed, you have to remember that the Imperial Cult is not one religion but a massive mindbogglingly huge collection of religions grouped under one umbrella. The Imperium fallows the same expansionist policy instituted by Christianity especially in it's younger years. It will basically mutate and warp it self to match the prevailing belief structure of the peoples the missionary is looking to convert and in doing so, birth a new religion. The Ecclesearchy doesn't much care what the specific tenants of a faith are, so long as that faith proclaims the God-Emperor (by what ever name or gender they ascribe to him) to be above all else and the most swell guy in all the universe, and as long as said faith doesn't advocate nor lead to dealings with the Enemies of Mankind, then it'll be let into the fold and its tenants added to the bloated schitzoperinic mess that is the Imperial Creed. Nothing more then what you've already read has been added or expanded on in an official manner in regards to the Creed. It's open ground for you to explore as you see fit.

In my game and vision of the universe, i did establish that, at the core, the Imperial Cult adheres to a set of Cardinal Virtues as well as acknowledging a set of corresponding vices. The virtues are:

Courage: for a man must be willing to loss everything he holds dear for the betterment of the Imperium if it is to prevail against the Enemy.

Ignorance: knowledge is a curse that will cast you from his light if your mind is weak or your soul lacking. Trust in your superiors and their dictates for they know more then you ever will about the Matter and have been judged capable of handling burden of the knowledge that they are cursed with so that your soul might remain pure and clean.

Faith: to lose ones life and the lives of a billion others is noting compared to losing ones Faith in he on Terra. Te former will only add the deceased to His strength and serve His purpose while the latter undermines His goals and His servants aiding the Enemy all the while.

Cruelty: As they say, cruelty is the kindness of the wise for no other lesson stays in the mind like the one that burns and strings. Be cruel and the weak shall perish (which is good for them for if they continue living a weak and incompetent life, not only will they be miserable but all around them as well!), their taint removed from the Imperium that they might weaken it no longer, while the strong prosper adding their strength to He On Terra's and the race on the whole.

The Vices

Cowardice: for to give into fear to such an extent is to place one's own desires above that of the God-Emperor and opens one's self up to the Enemey allowing them purchase to control you and undermine His Work.

Knowledge: The knowledgeable mind questions, the questioning mind doubts, the doubting mind fails to act. Knowledge gives the Enemy a purchase from which he can manipulate you mind, your soul, and your action. Those who Know are cursed. Shun them if they be the hermit, pity them if they be the slave, but fear them if they be In His Service for they have been judged to be strong enough to accept the weakening knowledge and still be strong enough to act in his service and are, as such, your better in all things.

Doubt: Knowledge can lead to doubt but so can lies and the evils of the Logician. To doubt is to fail to act or be manipulated in acting in a manner counter to His Will and such always serves the Enemy.

Mercy: mercy coddles the weak and allows their weakness to spread like a disease and weaken the Imperium on the whole. To show mercy is to allow a traitorous hole to be opened in the His Defenses against the Enemy.

This is a very nebulous universe and no one knows much about it when you get down to brass tacks, though the longer you're burred in it, the more comfortable you'll become with all of it's oddities and vagaries ;-)

 

so my biggest misunderstanding was to relate Imperial Creed to relevaeted religions (like christianity, judaism or islam), to mee according to your description seems more like the cult of the emperor in rome where conquered peapole had only to incorporate the emperor in their pantheon. I think i'm going to add some more depth to the thing, some moral founding code, something like you suggest, i do not want to question my players if ****, human sacrifices, pedophilia, cannibalism or other such extreme behavior are permitted, adding some more details to the basic "emperor rulez" will surely give a plenty of room for my players to question if a cult is legitimate or not and other such moral dilemmas.

the reason behind my unluck with the search of other informations about this setting is that there are none to be found! XD i assumed a vast lore behind the setting, warhammer 40k has been around for years and i've always seen a lot of novels of this universe, the good is that i will not be called heretic by the old fans of the setting ^^

so no one knows what an hexalid is XD i think will opt for a giant lizard with a carapace of 16 plates (to give some meaning to the name), if it lives in an arid climate and on rocky ground a toad seems to me unlikely.

thx for all your answers, they where very usefull!

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Nirgal said:

i do not want to question my players if ****, human sacrifices, pedophilia, cannibalism or other such extreme behavior are permitted

 

Then 40k in any way shape or form is not for you.

 

It's the Grim Dark future.

Things done in the Emperors Name are ok, but if the bad guys do it then its Bad and to be purged.

 

Some daemons (and theirs cultists) will revel in ****** babies whilst sacrificially eating them, it's how they get their kicks for fun.

Such is the world of 40k and all its associated games.

 

It's not a pretty or clean place, it's not filled with the niceness of human kindness, there are no easter eggs or Xmas pressies, birthdays are not celebrated except perhaps on the pagan worlds where the emperors light shines feebly and even then its by seasons ("Blah McBlah of the Clan McBlah is twelve summers this summer, let us feast on his carcass and live from his strength and youth" kind of affair).

 

The Ecclesiarchy is rife with sexual predators, with its cults of the chaos gods offering lip service to Him On Terra, perverting holy rituals to better serve their Real Masters in the warp.

 

There is no "British Blitz Spirit" with people helping one another out, People skill for scraps of food or for a few slugs of ammo in the lower hives. Life is cheap compared to ammo or armour. Those that run the "soup kitchens" are probably putting poisons in to the food or spoiling the food in the name of Papa Nurgle.

 

The Arbitrators will happily lay in to "innocent" civilians who so much as even glance at them slightly wrongly.

 

 

In 40k there is only war.

War against the Xeno.

War against the Heretic.

War against the Mutant.

Brother would kill brother for a chance of week old rotten food in the lower hives.

Mothers would mother their babies if they could get away with keeping the food chits to help feed themselves and hide it away from the family.

 

So on and so forth.

As i said, not a happy place in any way shape or form...

 

 

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Velvetears said:

Nirgal said:

 

i do not want to question my players if ****, human sacrifices, pedophilia, cannibalism or other such extreme behavior are permitted

 

 

 

Then 40k in any way shape or form is not for you.

 

It's the Grim Dark future.

Things done in the Emperors Name are ok, but if the bad guys do it then its Bad and to be purged.

 

Some daemons (and theirs cultists) will revel in ****** babies whilst sacrificially eating them, it's how they get their kicks for fun.

Such is the world of 40k and all its associated games.

 

It's not a pretty or clean place, it's not filled with the niceness of human kindness, there are no easter eggs or Xmas pressies, birthdays are not celebrated except perhaps on the pagan worlds where the emperors light shines feebly and even then its by seasons ("Blah McBlah of the Clan McBlah is twelve summers this summer, let us feast on his carcass and live from his strength and youth" kind of affair).

 

The Ecclesiarchy is rife with sexual predators, with its cults of the chaos gods offering lip service to Him On Terra, perverting holy rituals to better serve their Real Masters in the warp.

 

There is no "British Blitz Spirit" with people helping one another out, People skill for scraps of food or for a few slugs of ammo in the lower hives. Life is cheap compared to ammo or armour. Those that run the "soup kitchens" are probably putting poisons in to the food or spoiling the food in the name of Papa Nurgle.

 

The Arbitrators will happily lay in to "innocent" civilians who so much as even glance at them slightly wrongly.

 

 

In 40k there is only war.

War against the Xeno.

War against the Heretic.

War against the Mutant.

Brother would kill brother for a chance of week old rotten food in the lower hives.

Mothers would mother their babies if they could get away with keeping the food chits to help feed themselves and hide it away from the family.

 

So on and so forth.

As i said, not a happy place in any way shape or form...

 

 

maybe i didn't explain me well ^^ srry english isn't my mother language.

what i intended is that if everything is permitted without any question there's no moral implication for anything. for ex. if **** in the name of the emperor is pretty much accepted players will never be called to make moral choices for everything is permitted, this actually would flaten the game transforming players in robots, even the extreme act of calling an Exterminatus would be void of any moral weight while actually no one would call it lightly and often there are cleansing rituals for those forced to take such a desperate mesure. the fact that "the ends justify the means" dosn't mean that there aren't any implications for extreme acts.

let's take for ex. a cult on a distant world that sacrifices babies in the cruelest ways possible to please the emperor, the players come in contact with this cult and as soon as they discover that they do that for the emperor and that there isn't any sign of chaos behind they simply wash their hands and walk away, if this was the case where is the "horror" of this setting? i prefer that characters when confronted with such a kind of things feel something, they may be astonished by the cruelty of the cult or be pleased for their extreme behavior but if everything is normal well everything is normal ^^ For ex. if the characters are disgusted by the way of this cult they will have to choose what to do: maybe they will purge the cult to end the suffering of innocents, or maybe they will leave knowing that interference could bring even more unpleasant problems? if they choose to end the cult how they are going to do? they will cover their decision in their reports and how?

roleplaying is about being part of the world not spectators, in a movie for ex. the setting can be as callous as you wish for spectators will be those outside the setting feeling morally tested, in a rolplaying expirience players are into the world itself and are both characters and spectators but if there's no moral they will never be tested being part of the amoral world itself.

i hope i explained myself ^^

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from france

a short answer for i have no time to make a long one and other player la kie graver said most of what as to be said.

 

so a cult that sacrifice babies to the emperor? fine until the eclesiarchy say the cult is heretical nothing will happen. hey some cult who never shed blood of innocent victime have been declared heretical just because they don't spell well the word emperor. really war of religions made by and for the eclesiarchy can have so many sources that doing evil thing in the name of the empreror doesn't matter.

but sacrifice a baby in the name of one the chaos god and then you will be burn....

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the 8 spider said:

from france

a short answer for i have no time to make a long one and other player la kie graver said most of what as to be said.

 

so a cult that sacrifice babies to the emperor? fine until the eclesiarchy say the cult is heretical nothing will happen. hey some cult who never shed blood of innocent victime have been declared heretical just because they don't spell well the word emperor. really war of religions made by and for the eclesiarchy can have so many sources that doing evil thing in the name of the empreror doesn't matter.

but sacrifice a baby in the name of one the chaos god and then you will be burn....

in fact the problem isn't if it heretic or no, the problem is how the characters will react to the matter. If there aren't moral dilemmas only because law says something then characters will be flat and there will be no point in having various views of how to serve the emperor for every way is good and till those ways aren't heretic everyone is fine. Actually things aren't this way or inquisitors will not fight upon their ideals one against the other. Various moral tendencies among the characters is even a greater way to explore human nature and to bring to life the "dark gothic" theme of the setting.

a father that steals milk to give something to eat to his child is obviously a thief and thus law punish him, but those charged to condamn the man and those charged with the execution of the punishment will have a moral question at hand, law/duty/responsability vs compassion/common sense or wathever. without this kind of interior conflicts characters would be grey and totally void of any chance to grow. Even in society built upon strenght where little room is given to compassion moral choices are central, for ex. greek heroes where all pitted against moral choices to overcome between gods laws and mortal needs and ambitions.

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As far as I've been able to fathom, the central ethics of the Imperial creed can be defined thus:

Value tradition, loyalty and order. Serve your place the social hierarchy. Obey the laws and keep your oaths. Mercy and compassion are weaknesses to be avoided because they conflict with the needs of order and hierarchy. So called freedom and dignity are really words for anarchy and rebellion. Those who deviate from tradition and order are the enemy. Those who are different are the enemy. The mutant, the heretic and the xenos are the enemy. The enemy surrounds you and seeks always to destroy you. The enemy must be fought and defeated at any cost.

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You know, the "longevity treatments" so much people use in the 40k unniverse has been implied to come from baby-juice somewhere (maybe a novel).

You say "If there is no moral dilemma  because the law doesn't forbid this...". Morality and law are completely different things. The absolute fact about the empire law is: strength makes you right; the Empire has more strength than you, so obey the Empire.

Your players reach a planet where babies are ritually sacrified to the Emperor's glory? So what? Wrong. An active and implied player might try to make it a part of "his" character (if his plate isn't already full). For example, let's say he comes from a society where children are valued above all, because they are the future and their innocence is considered a gift from the Emperor himself (that doesn't mean spoiling them: there is always a younger child, you know, and eventually even babies reach puberty XD). Now you have an even greater dilemma: the player has its beliefs, the local people have theirs, and the imperial law backs both sides equally. Now, can the player raise a crusade to terminate what his character things is an abhorrent behaviour, completely inhuman?

Being this Warhammer 40k, yes, he will most probably be sucessfull in raising a crusade to solve that situation. A crusade which will burn everybody in that planet who follows that custom (to the last woman or child...) and even make the PC a minor saint in their cult. Now your player can be proud: he solved a "wrongdoing" in a planet where, every year, 500 children (of the 5.000.000 of babies being born) were sacrified in the name of the emperor (a custom they inherited from times where the resources in that planet where so scarce, killing some children was the only way to survive... and it was more humanitarian than let them starve), and for doing it he "only" caused the death of some tens of thousands of millions people.

Now, that is "grim" ;P

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Argus Van Het said:

You know, the "longevity treatments" so much people use in the 40k unniverse has been implied to come from baby-juice somewhere (maybe a novel).

You say "If there is no moral dilemma  because the law doesn't forbid this...". Morality and law are completely different things. The absolute fact about the empire law is: strength makes you right; the Empire has more strength than you, so obey the Empire.

Your players reach a planet where babies are ritually sacrified to the Emperor's glory? So what? Wrong. An active and implied player might try to make it a part of "his" character (if his plate isn't already full). For example, let's say he comes from a society where children are valued above all, because they are the future and their innocence is considered a gift from the Emperor himself (that doesn't mean spoiling them: there is always a younger child, you know, and eventually even babies reach puberty XD). Now you have an even greater dilemma: the player has its beliefs, the local people have theirs, and the imperial law backs both sides equally. Now, can the player raise a crusade to terminate what his character things is an abhorrent behaviour, completely inhuman?

Being this Warhammer 40k, yes, he will most probably be sucessfull in raising a crusade to solve that situation. A crusade which will burn everybody in that planet who follows that custom (to the last woman or child...) and even make the PC a minor saint in their cult. Now your player can be proud: he solved a "wrongdoing" in a planet where, every year, 500 children (of the 5.000.000 of babies being born) were sacrified in the name of the emperor (a custom they inherited from times where the resources in that planet where so scarce, killing some children was the only way to survive... and it was more humanitarian than let them starve), and for doing it he "only" caused the death of some tens of thousands of millions people.

Now, that is "grim" ;P

this is exactly what i mean ^^

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While I aggree with most of what is being said about the imperium it should be remembered that not all worlds are like that.  There are worlds that are reletively self sustained, their culture could be viewed similar to earth only more advanced (in some cases less advanced).  An example I can give comes from a short story I read back when games workshop still published them.  The story was about an area of space that had faced a WAAAAGH (Ork holy war) the area was in shambles the orks had been broken but it would be probably 40-50 years before all areas were purged of the green menace and then of course came rebuilding.  Well it turns put that the neighboring system's forge world as well as other surrounding worlds were in basically in a perpetual economic boom selling weapons and food in the form of impierial contracts.  Now the hive worlds had a few problems, see the imperial tithing sytsem allows worlds to pay in the form of resources, psychers, and soilders.  Basically what happened was the wealthly industiralists of surrounding systems paid off the hive world leaders to basically pay of the their own worlds tithe duties in the form of imperial gaurd regements which were needed for the war.  As a result of this bargain the planets made a crap ton of money and basically everyone but the people in the underhive (remember hive worlds can number in the 50 billion plus range for population so plenty of conscripts to go round), could look forward to at least 100 years of prosperity in mlitary weapon and food contracts. 

With regards to **** and murder and what not, most societies in the imperium have laws against it but as was said before as long as tithes are paid and planetary govenors maintain control of their planets what happens on their planets is irrelevent.  IE. surrounding worlds flourish, underhivers press ganged in to gaurd service.

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