Lightbringer

Historical military/warrior archetypes as yet unused by GW

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Games Workshop relies heavily on warrior archetypes from throughout history. The Space Wolves are/could be read as Vikings in Space, the Ultramarines are/could be read as  Romans in Space, the White Scars are/could be read as Mongol warriors in space...and so on. As time goes on, more and more obscure archetypes get mined for inspiration. The Astral Claws had a distinctly Babylonian feel to them in parts, for example.

The same carries through to the Imperial Guard: Catachans=US Vietnam war soldier, Praetorians=Rourke's Drift-era British Redcoat, Valhallan=WWII era Russian and so on.

What military/warrior concepts or archetypes from history do you think could be usefully mined for future Space Marine Chapters? Have you got a homebrew chapter based upon Greek Hoplites/the Samurai/the Zulu warriors? 

Or do you think that using historical archtypes in this way is too much of a shorthand, and GW should go its own way, as it has with, for example, the Red Scorpions, Sons of Medusa, Novamarines etc and create a chapter NOT apparently based upon an historical archetype?

Any thoughts? 

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I both agree and disagree with you. As 40k is so developed it would certainly make it very possible to create new Chapters that don't use any direct historical background for inspiration, but at the same time I do like most of the Chapters that have some history-inspiration for themselves. I do think however that there are lots of stuff that haven't been used yet by GW. I could of course be wrong on several of these, but here are some examples that I brainstormed:

 

- Ottoman Janissars

- Western European Knights (and probably most importantly French knights)

- Zulus

- Imperial Chinese

- Feudal Japanese

- Pre-colonial Indians

- Caliphate Arabs

- Meso- and/or South America in Pre-Colombian times (the Aztecs are probably the most famous but far from the only interesting culture from that area and time)

- Native North Americans

- Ancient Spartans

- Ancient Greeks in general

- Ancient Assyrians

 

EDITED: As for homegrown Chapters, the one I am currently working a little on is not actually so much based upon a warrior civilization as upon the teachings regarding alchemy and theurgy, although I will possibly use inspiration from real life magical orders and some military organization like the knights templars or some other order. I don't know how much use this will be, but the ones that I am working a little on for myself are the following ones, with the main sources of inspiration:

 

Ascendants - Alchemy, Knights Templars and Magical Orders (like Order of the Golden Dawn etc.)

Solar Lions - Cult of Mithras

Nightmares - various fascist organizations from interwar Europe and general morbid symbology

Sons of Thunder - Spartans (and "parent" Chapter to the Ascendants)

Black Daggers (working name) - Aztecs and other Pre-Colombian Mesoamericans

 

 

 

 

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Lightbringer said:

Or do you think that using historical archtypes in this way is too much of a shorthand, and GW should go its own way, as it has with, for example, the Red Scorpions, Sons of Medusa, Novamarines etc and create a chapter NOT apparently based upon an historical archetype?

 

Umm... why ask question of what GW should be doing on an FFG forum? Do you think GW is monitoring these forums? FFG =/= GW.

Anyway, I think the question of squats is enough to point out that GW is trying to avoid further blatant "borrowing" of historical or fantasy archetypes into 40k. They'll only borrow to the extent it fits their vision of the grimdark, and even then, as shown with the ForgeWorld Krieg (WWI Germans), heavily modify it to make sure it fits the 40k universe and even then put a heavy spin on it. Now, I probably will get proven wrong in short order, but their trend has definitely been to build up their own vision rather than conforming to anyone else's. And, we're better off for it IMO.

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 Some, like Native North Americans, have been covered, but often tangentially. Native Americans, for instance, are covered by Dark Angels' Deathwing, if only just. Old West gunslingers have been sort of covered by Gunmetal City in Dark Heresy. The term 'Janissaries' has been made in reference to Maccabeus Quintus, I believe, in Dark Heresy. Very occasionally, the Mantis Warriors are made to look like Samurai, but this is very rare.

Others, like Imperial Fists, are inspired by the likes of the Prussians, but have their own style. Black Templars are very much old-school crusaders. Interestingly, I like the Tau's drawing on anime and manga (in spite of my dislike for those genres); I like aliens drawing inspiration from science fiction and fantasy, with the Imperium's troops drawing on history.

Sometimes I look up the names of minor characters to find the linguistic roots, to make naming character easier for instance. I found that 'Zargo' as in 'Castellan Zargo', Chapter Master of the Angels Encarmine, is a Kurdish name, so went with Kurdish names for my characters. I guess the same goes for Crimson Fists, often using Hispanic names, and Storm Wardens using Celtic names, for example.

I'd like to see people convert Guard miniatures to look like NVA or Viet Cong to represent Catachans, or the equivalent thereof, instead of having Viet Nam era USMC. Just reckon it would look cool. Then again, the Imperium's troops often seem to be based on the powers that were considered imperialist or colonial, for the most part; hence Mongols, Vikings, Victorian-era British, WW1 Germans, Tsarist and Soviet Russians, Romans, as opposed to Zulus, Indians, Irish and the like. I'd also like to see the Administratum drawing on Imperial (and Communist, I suppose) China, with the idea of a 'Celestial Bureaucracy', or state efficiency, being paramount.

With the Tallarn Imperial Guard regiment, I'm unsure if they're Arab-inspired, or British colonials in the Middle East-inspired. Maybe both?

Something slightly bothers me, in that some aliens are used to represent human history. The Necrons, for instance, draw a lot from Ancient Egypt. To be honest, I'd like to think the people of Ancient Egypt have more in common with humanity than a race that's slept for millenia, and is made form metal. A guard regiment drawing inspiration from Ancient Egypt might be less offensive to me, or a Space Marine chapter using lots of Dreads.

The way the Eldar drew on historical and religious inspiration (such as similarities to the Path of Bushido being seen, as well as Hindu inspiration) is more tasteful than the way the Necrons basically shout 'Ancient Egyptians are more akin to aliens than other humans'.

To be fair, GW used to be a lot worse on this front. 

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bluntpencil2001 said:

Something slightly bothers me, in that some aliens are used to represent human history. The Necrons, for instance, draw a lot from Ancient Egypt. To be honest, I'd like to think the people of Ancient Egypt have more in common with humanity than a race that's slept for millenia, and is made form metal. A guard regiment drawing inspiration from Ancient Egypt might be less offensive to me, or a Space Marine chapter using lots of Dreads.

The way the Eldar drew on historical and religious inspiration (such as similarities to the Path of Bushido being seen, as well as Hindu inspiration) is more tasteful than the way the Necrons basically shout 'Ancient Egyptians are more akin to aliens than other humans'.

The Thousand Sons, most especially as presented in the HH series, are clearly Ancient Egyptian, more so than the Necrons even.

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Plasmafest said:

bluntpencil2001 said:

 

Something slightly bothers me, in that some aliens are used to represent human history. The Necrons, for instance, draw a lot from Ancient Egypt. To be honest, I'd like to think the people of Ancient Egypt have more in common with humanity than a race that's slept for millenia, and is made form metal. A guard regiment drawing inspiration from Ancient Egypt might be less offensive to me, or a Space Marine chapter using lots of Dreads.

The way the Eldar drew on historical and religious inspiration (such as similarities to the Path of Bushido being seen, as well as Hindu inspiration) is more tasteful than the way the Necrons basically shout 'Ancient Egyptians are more akin to aliens than other humans'.

 

 

The Thousand Sons, most especially as presented in the HH series, are clearly Ancient Egyptian, more so than the Necrons even.

I guess the use of 'mummy' type troops, the pyramids, and the horrifically cheesy naming conventions ('Canoptek', 'Imhotek', really?) makes me think they've done this. Kinda irritating.

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I wouldn't read too deep into it. Unfortunately in the Western mindset we know the readers digest version of the Egyptian religion which is colored and lensed by what has edured, their tombs and burial structures. That means we distill and associate egypt with a reverance for the dead which fits neatly in with a mental picture for grand structures built to house the slumbering Necrons and their own worship of their C'Tan who are pretty much gods of death. One could make the argument that another route could have been gone, but as a writer why not use the tools and preconceptions your given.

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lurkeroutthere said:

I wouldn't read too deep into it. Unfortunately in the Western mindset we know the readers digest version of the Egyptian religion which is colored and lensed by what has edured, their tombs and burial structures. That means we distill and associate egypt with a reverance for the dead which fits neatly in with a mental picture for grand structures built to house the slumbering Necrons and their own worship of their C'Tan who are pretty much gods of death. One could make the argument that another route could have been gone, but as a writer why not use the tools and preconceptions your given.

To be honest, the "high-tech ancient civilisation with vaguely egyptian trappings" suggests the Goa'uld from Stargate as much as it does the Egyptians themselves, particularly when you consider all the portals and teleportation tech they use, and view Lords and Overlords as megalomaniacal kings and tyrants with an unshakeable belief in their own supremacy

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The funny thing about both the Thousand Sons and the Necrons is that their "Ancient Egyptian" inspirations are very shallow. The post-heresy Sons are nothing more than marines wearing the Nemes headdress or a type of it, end of inspiration. The pre-heresy Sons are a bit better, but their whole inspiration is derived from the pharaohs. There is enough ancient Egyptian inspiration lying around unused, that GW could make a whole SM chapter out of it without the need to re-use things used for Necrons or the Sons.

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On a semi-related note, has everyone seen the trailer for the new Coriolanus movie from Ralph Fiennes?

In many ways GW are not leveraging the Modern Warfare Iraq/Afganistan look as much as they could be.

(And never forgetting the magnificent Richard III film from Ian McKellen:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ke5-SUDrHMU which is probably the greatest 40k flick ever made)

 

 

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 The rainbow warriors are still official, but they've never been Mesoamerican.

That was just an admittedly cool bit of fan work by TG.

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bluntpencil2001 said:

Something slightly bothers me, in that some aliens are used to represent human history. The Necrons, for instance, draw a lot from Ancient Egypt. To be honest, I'd like to think the people of Ancient Egypt have more in common with humanity than a race that's slept for millenia, and is made form metal. A guard regiment drawing inspiration from Ancient Egypt might be less offensive to me, or a Space Marine chapter using lots of Dreads.

The way the Eldar drew on historical and religious inspiration (such as similarities to the Path of Bushido being seen, as well as Hindu inspiration) is more tasteful than the way the Necrons basically shout 'Ancient Egyptians are more akin to aliens than other humans'.

To be fair, GW used to be a lot worse on this front. 

Welllllll... Necrons and Eldar do both represent ancient races w/in the 40k universe. Necrons represent one of the oldest just as Ancient Egypt represents one of the oldest human cultures. At least in Western Europe, US, and Canada, many folks would associate any sort of "Ancient Egypt-esque" imagery with an ancient culture. This isn't even that new of an idea. HP Lovecraft used egyptian sounding names for several of his ancient evil creatures (e.g. Nyarlathotep, Azathoth).  I think it's more about communicating that ancientness in a glance than anything to be bothered about. It's a backstory built for a table top war game, not for a epic novel series after all.

Further, the Necrons (and Tomb Kings for that matter) are more a homage/pastiche of pop culture "Mummy" fiction and is recognizable to anyone familiar with the various "Mummy" franchises. A fair number of the stories around necrons involve the "wake the dead" and "mummy's curse" kind of tropes that play out so often in the various "Mummy" movies and stories across the 20th century. Again, it's that ancient civilization coming to play.  I really fail to see how using fan-service stereotypes as aliens would be any more or less offensive than using them as humans. To be honest, I find the Wolves drunken viking image to be a more bothersome stereotype than the necrons.

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Plasmafest said:

 

The Thousand Sons, most especially as presented in the HH series, are clearly Ancient Egyptian, more so than the Necrons even.

If I recalled the Thousand Sons did some sort of Tai Chi, reminescent of Hong Kong.  I just can't remember which HH novel I read that from.

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How about the various cultures of the South Pacific?

The Maori were, (and still are,) some seriously hard dudes. And you've got other islander cultures like the Tongans, Samoans, Fijians and heaps of others. They all come from pretty hardcore warrior cultures and they all have some pretty cool artwork. (Tribal tattoos anyone?)

Plus there's the types of lands they come from. Islands and volcanos make a different landscape than that presented in the regular GW outlook of the world. (Not surprising as they're from Europe.)

I was working on a chapter that was an Islander based chapter on a largely ocean based world. Plenty of oportunities for tribal warfare and various sea monsters to make it a deathworld, even though it's got a beautiful climate and plenty of sun and stunning beaches.

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Gavmando said:

How about the various cultures of the South Pacific?

The Maori were, (and still are,) some seriously hard dudes. And you've got other islander cultures like the Tongans, Samoans, Fijians and heaps of others. They all come from pretty hardcore warrior cultures and they all have some pretty cool artwork. (Tribal tattoos anyone?)

Plus there's the types of lands they come from. Islands and volcanos make a different landscape than that presented in the regular GW outlook of the world. (Not surprising as they're from Europe.)

I was working on a chapter that was an Islander based chapter on a largely ocean based world. Plenty of oportunities for tribal warfare and various sea monsters to make it a deathworld, even though it's got a beautiful climate and plenty of sun and stunning beaches.

 

salamanders. loosely i know but even so.

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Gavmando said:

How about the various cultures of the South Pacific?

The Maori were, (and still are,) some seriously hard dudes. And you've got other islander cultures like the Tongans, Samoans, Fijians and heaps of others. They all come from pretty hardcore warrior cultures and they all have some pretty cool artwork. (Tribal tattoos anyone?)

Plus there's the types of lands they come from. Islands and volcanos make a different landscape than that presented in the regular GW outlook of the world. (Not surprising as they're from Europe.)

I was working on a chapter that was an Islander based chapter on a largely ocean based world. Plenty of oportunities for tribal warfare and various sea monsters to make it a deathworld, even though it's got a beautiful climate and plenty of sun and stunning beaches.

That's the Carcharodons, I think.

Totally forgot about them.

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ak-73 said:

 

(trollface) Amazons. gran_risa.gif

 

(Okay not historical but fictional.)

 

Alex

 

 

Well, I guess that the Mesoamerican Rainbow Warriors have an LGBT pride flag for a reason. They might not be physically women, but they are instead Sisters of Battle trapped in the bodies of Space Marines.

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Lightbringer said:

Any thoughts? 

Well, I have a lot of thoughts on this subject ;-).

Actually, in our group we chose (or I as a GM chose) to flesh out our own setting in time (42nd millenium after the Badab wars) and our own segmentum of the Imperium and not the Jericho Reach. That segmentum has its own distinctive imperial Guard regiments and a few Space Marine Chapters hanging around (Knights of Gryphonne, Flesh Tearers (because they are awesome) and the containment operation against hive-fleet Leviathan led by the Raven Guard Shadow-Captain Aajz Solari).

I have these descriptions of every Imperial Guard regiment and other military or para-military organisation in my GM documentation with often really nothing more than a short line that says something like "based on Italian WWII Bersaglieri" or "based on Napoleonic era Prussian lancers." You can make up a lot of regiments and regiment names like that really fast. And the short descriptions really help when describing the soldiers to the players in my group, because they immediately have an image in their head of what they look like and how they behave.

I do this for places in the segmentum and  events in the history of the segmentum too. Every time I need it for our ongoing campaign I flesh out a regiment or a place or an event. Or sometimes I flesh out a combination of those at the same time (mostly when writing the background for a new NPC). The FFG books inspire me a lot, but I try to be as original as possible and make up my own stuff. It is a lot of time-consuming work, but I have a lot of fun doing it.

I just started with fleshing out the background of the Knights of Gryphonne a bit. And I already had the idea that you mentioned of a chapter working like a medieval French knightly army. You know, with sénéchals and bannières and all that. I want to make that chapter not too strictly Codex-adherent and because they are also a successor chapter to the Imperial Fists I have the space to do that. I still have to make up my mind of how I am going to fit medieval knightly cavalry tactics into a space marine chapter.

So, I would say: if you think that there is this great military archetype that FFG or GW hasn't used yet, use it yourself. Make up your own Imperial Guard regiment or Space Marine chapter and confront your players with it in your next game. It will be fun and afterwards you can proudly say that it was you who made it up.

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Gurkhal said:

- Western European Knights (and probably most importantly French knights)


 

Interesting you should say that. I've always considered Space Marines to be the future equivalent of Knights in space themselves. And on top of that, there are some Chapters that seem even more represtitive; Originally The Dark Angels, The Grey Knights and most recently (and most overtly) that Black Templars that seem to be the Knights of St John in space, even down to the Maltese Cross.

None of them seem particularly French though although I might be missing something obvious. There are certainly a few references that could be such as French sounding names and some of the General Heraldry and motifes.

Gurkhal said:

- Ottoman Janissars

 

- Zulus

- Imperial Chinese

- Feudal Japanese

- Pre-colonial Indians

- Caliphate Arabs

- Meso- and/or South America in Pre-Colombian times (the Aztecs are probably the most famous but far from the only interesting culture from that area and time)

- Native North Americans

- Ancient Spartans

- Ancient Greeks in general

- Ancient Assyrians

That does indeed seem to cover most. Although I don't know how many were originally thought by their creators to be reminisant of a certain culture but not Fleshed out. For Example, one of the Chapters has a Spartan (or Greek) Style Helmet as there Chapter badge but I don't know how far they go with the desciptions of their background, or even if they are 'canon' chapter.

I have a particular fondness for Ancient Chinese, especially the 3 Kingdoms era for some reason. And was considering a White Scar successor based on them.

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I ran a Dark Heresy game about the Brontian Longknives IG regiment in the Calixis sector and decided to use an archetype to make them different to the PDF. In the end I went for the Roundheads in the English Civil war complete with Lobster tail helmet as well.

roundhead.jpg

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Lanowar said:

In the end I went for the Roundheads in the English Civil war complete with Lobster tail helmet as well.

Good call. The heavy leather buff coats they wore are awesome.

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Well I'll be working on making a chapter based off of them but, GW hasn't done the Anglo-Saxons. They also haven't done the celts (except for the Storm Wardens which seem to be Scottish)

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