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Lauguz

"Foreign" Culture in the Imperium

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 Hi there,

I'm busy developing storylines for my DH game and I'm pulling a lot of inspiration from pulp stories and rpgs. Many of those stories are based around "foreign" cultures like Russia and China and I'm wondering if there are canonical examples of non-US/UK cultures in 40k. I know the Vostroykans are Russians, but otherwise the Imperium seems both homogenous and filled with diversity at the same time (which sounds oxymoronic but somehow the setting pulls it off). Looking at the sample names they're all pretty devoid of non-Latinish influence. Warhammer fantasy has a lot of examples like Tilea and Cathay. Are there similar cultures in 40k?

Thanks for any help.

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First, are you setting your DH game in the Calixis Sector?

Second, every world is a foreign culture to a world orbiting a different star. One of the Grey Men of Dreah would be mysterious and sinister to one of the 39-year old Elders of Orbel Quill, and vice versa. Too much of DH and 40K fiction in general plays up the imperial monoculture far past its utility in gaming. Think of medieval Europe. Everyone worships the same God in Church with mostly the same rituals, and the educated can all speak Latin, but beyond that? Very few connecting links between England and Italy OTHER than the Pope.

Second and a half, Something that's really downplayed in DH and most of the novels, which is unfortunate in my opinion, is that on a Hive World, each HIVE is unique world with its own culture(s) and history. Going from one hive to another should be no different than going from one PLANET to another.

Third, not every world in the Imperium is a monoculture. They're not focused on too much because it's hard to depict in the space opera, overview from orbit, feel that most 40K setting material provides. Think if Earth had a planetary government that was the sole interaction with further galactic civilization - China would still be different from the USA would be different than Ghana.

Sorry if I'm over-thinking this instead of "Tallarn is Arabia and Mordia is Prussia" (both of which are true, btw)

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Real world cultures can certainly be a lot of fun to pull from for planetary inspiration, and a nice source of names besides.

While there are plenty of holes that can be poked in the following, I often use this rationalization for worlds not explicitly colonized in recent record:

Many planets in the Imperium are "re-discovered."  That is, they were colonized before the Emperor united mankind.  We have little information on what Terra was like back then.  However, it is entirely possible Terra was still divided among country lines.  Initial colonization might therefore have been done largely by groups from one ethnic background from Terra.  If the planets continued to grow mainly organically after that, rather than from large inflows of outside settlers from other planets, it is possible they may have maintained some of the unique aspects of their original society.

Definitely extrapolation rather than canon, but it floats my boat.

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 That actually realy works for me, up until reading your explanation I was always a bit off put by the 'cheesiness' of many 'unique' worlds in the 40,000 Universe. Thank you very much aethel for restoring my faith in the plausibilty of the Imperium. 

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Well, to be fair you wouldn't even need a balkanized "Old Earth" for there to have been cultural/ethnic diversity.  There is, after all, a difference between the way a given place is governed and the cultures that it might represent.

Kage

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This is how I view Imperial cultures based on Imperial Guard armies: Cadia-US, Catachan-Latin America, Tallarn-Middle East, Vostroya-Russia. All the others are too vague to associate with anything or focus on a particular form of war rather than a culture.

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there are even happy planets in the imperium.

planets with a functional middle class, good government, peace.  Probably millions of them given the size of the Imperium.

but no one writes novels about them.  And they are just as likely to be destroyed by an ork invasion or chaos incursion.

 

But keep in mind that the Imperium that you read about is mostly sci-ci.  And that's mostly one culture.  Japan has a different culture than the U.S. - but businessmen wear suits, they have glass and steel high-rises, etc.  It is not like comparing wild west U.S. with shogunate Japan.

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