Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Should the 40k story Progress? Exploring the Death of the False Emperor!
Old School here to talk about the 40k storyline and the case for progression as the editions move on. The topic is one, as a fluff fiend, that I have thought about many times, but never bothered to blog about until I saw Sandwyrm's post on The Back 40k.
In his post, Sandwyrm deals with the death of the Emperor as a catalyst to create new human factions and expand some of the xenos ones as well. He also reposted some comments from a discussion he had in the comments of a Bell of Lost Souls post where some folks had an extremely adverse reaction to the idea of the 40k storyline changing.
My view on it is that the game has been around for an extremely long time, especially when you factor in Rogue Trader and the original fluff and the entire time, though the stories have shifted and clarified, the game has been going on in the same fraction of the 41st millenium for quite some time. Each addition goes further to push the idea of mankind being on the brink of destruction - Now this is a great idea for a setting and the despiration has an undeniable draw, as you can tell, since you are sitting here reading this (lol), let's dig deeper ...
How far can this continue however? How long can we keep the same story and not progress? How long can the tyranid threat be lingering or Chaos glowering or any other massive galactic threat before something gives? How long can the Emperor himself hold out in his withered form?
If 5th edition is the End Times, is 6th edition The End? What if the Emperor dies and his death is a mystery? The Astinomicon goes out. The Chaos Space Marines cease to have purpose and the very powers they have come to worship no longer need them to accomplish their goals. Humanity is spread out and has limited travel and communication capabilities. The Space Marines and Guard fleets truly are humanity's last standing hope. The tyranids are no longer drawn toward Terra and the hive fleets go random. The Eldar and the Tau have a respite and their respective societies can find a chance to flourish in post-imperial space ... but still there is only war.
This would make for an interesting setting, push the Black Library side of things into new territory and would generally allow the game and its factions to carry on without major disruptions game-play wise. Basically, the Space Marine fleets who remain whole are now the custodians of the particular regions they find themselves in as are the guard, who may be closer to their homeworlds than the Marines are. Xenos races push in to expand their territories, as they always have and fight over space. The Nid fleets now scramble and regroup, taking in much needed biomass as they do so. The daemons push further into real space for longer periods as the Chaos legions splinter to claim their own corners of the galaxy as their once united purpose crumbles, some may even become the malevolent benefactors of regions, preserving the huimanity living there. The inquisition scrambles to defend Terra and thr Radicals come to the fore in the End Times.
Very good stuff I would think and with those elements at play, the average gamer and the string of codices can move on as it always has.
Now, the question is; "Do you think the story could use some progression? Would the death of the Emperor be a good catalyst for that progression? Do you think it could be done with minimal impact to the game, while certainly impacting the fluff? Where would it go from there?
In my mind, I would hope for the Emperor to be reborn and for the Space Marines to find themselves guiding humanity as Ultramar is guided by in the meantime, but cut off from the total Empire. I can imagine the Astronomicon to flicker back on as He is reborn and for the Inquisition, several Space Marine Chapters or strikeforces (led by libbies), and even the legions of the traitors to move toward it, yet maybe never actually finding the Emperor, but maybe just His work or Miracles where they should have found him, forever a mystery as the Imperium begins to rebuild and reconquer its space, sharing it with new neighbors. Perhaps even some traitors could be redeemed in this time and maybe some loyalists could betray the imperium.
In any case, food for thought. If you made it this far thanks for reading this fluff rant. All in all the story and the current edition are solid enough to stick around for a long time and I am not saying there is a NEED for a change, as they could really mess it up (lol), rather just one nerd exploring the possibilities and asking other nerds what they think.