Playing EPIC in 28mm.

Friday, 11 April 2014

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke

Now, I know that some of you think, possibly quite rightly, that I overthink 40K sometimes.

If this blog focussed more on my Eldar warhost, then it wouldn't contain quite so many musings on the fluff and how and why the imperium might work.  But when you think about the factors involved in trying to launch an army through the warp, to fight a war somewhere else in space, things get sort of involved very quickly - more of this in another post later, perhaps.

My Eldar warhost contains a lot of killy stuff.  No combat engineers, no tiers of command, no regimental bands, no divisional creche or baker; just corsairs, aspect warriors, some token guardians and fistloads of seers to hold it altogether. So there's not too much to contemplate - they're Eldar, like the fluff - like Mr Thorpe's well realised but sometimes awkwardly writted books.

But the Imperial Guard demand, by their very nature, a little more consideration, especially considering their delivery system - the Imperial Navy, the DM and ultimately, the wider imperium itself.  Now, these are people (albeit made up ones).  And people exhibit different behaviours, some of which we can understand, if not relate to...

Anyway.  Morality popped up again - first the Laughing Ferret suggest that we be more circumspect when using certain words (whose meaning is actually derogatory or pertaining to vice) and then Col Gravis asked if we really need or want some of the female sculpts that are being offered.  But some of them manage the trick of being quite demure whilst still being somewhat attractive.

I did notice that no-one commented on the Gionvudar Massacre.

In reply to Col Gravis I alluded to the idea that perhaps given the actual unpleasantness of warfare in 40K, an army of over sexualised soldiers is perhaps not such a great evil.

For those of you who have not given it much thought; the whole fluff of 40K is a war of extermination; the Eldar are out for themselves, the Necrons want to kill all living things, the Orks just want to fight everyone, the 'Nids will just eat everything and the various bits of the imperium will turn in on themselves whenever there is no external enemy to face.

The SoB, BT, OH and iggies and beakies who have seen too much (and they all have) will wipe out civilian populations without a second thought.  The High Lords might care, but do not even possess the wherewithal to do anything different.  There is no Geneva Convention, no Queensbury Rules.  Flame-throwers, poison gas, chainswords and other things that we would think of as barbaric are workaday options in 40K.

The great enemy is just the icing on the cake.  Eldar, Ork, Nid, Cron and Tau are clearly the alien.  Xenoforms are an obvious rival and itching to continue with the payback for the Great Crusade.  But it seems inevitable that the greatest threat is from other humans.  And knowing that there is no quarter to be had from any enemy, none would ever be offered.  No mercy, no remorse.

If war in 40K arrives at a planet, then worrying about refugees is not really a concern of any of 40K's usual suspects.  Iggies might be disposed to offer succour, but only if they have resources to spare and no orders to the contrary. Everybody else either sees them as an inconvenience or prey.

40K is not a 'nice' game, none of the protagonists are worthy of absolution, redemption, acclaim or hero worship; they are all criminals either by act or omission.  It is a dirty, pitiless time.  (Don't worry, I haven't forgotten that it's fictional).  We ought to be ashamed of ourselves, gaining pleasure from playing with such bloodsoaked toys.

So.  What's my point ?  If Admiral Drax can score a small victory by fielding an ethnically diverse army, if Col Gravis can score a small victory fielding non-sexualised female iggies, If any of us avoid using popular but technically obscene terms in conversation; then perhaps we should.

What this does not mean is that humancentric armies should suddenly start going on humanitarian relief missions.  Exodite warlords will not suddenly start sparing colonists who maintain their claims in the face of the Eldar's older ones.  Orks will not suddenly by-pass undefended cities just because they are not offering a fight.  Changing the behaviour of 40K arhcitypes is not what I meant.

The challenge is ours as players.  The action lies with us to behave with a degree of integrity; to display virtue where it might not always be the easiest way. And perhaps it doesn't stop at the gaming table, does it ?

Of course, if I just played this as a game, with pieces, in stead of buying into the background, it wouldn't matter...


  1. There's only one point in there i'd disagree with you on, and that's on the matter of the beakies disdain for humanity.

    Sure, for some chapters i;d agree, but i think the more wholesome chapters (smurfs, maybe even my smelly hairy mob) would acknowledge that they were created to protect humanity, the price they pay being to forever be separate from it, but nonetheless they are the guardians and shepherds of the mortal human empire.

    granted not some chapters.. who would either see humans as a nuisance. or food.

    oh and no, i didnt see the other post at all. gah..

  2. Nothing more to say to this than: bloody good post, very interesting and I certainly agree. I'd second Karitas' comment as well though. I try and off-set the grimdark in my own fluff with a bit of humanity amongst the humans occasionally - this makes the grimdark more meaningful, contrast of light and dark etc etc. And what do you mean 'it's fictional'?!

  3. Great post (although I'm not sure the link to Ferret's blog went to the right place).

    I think what I like best is that it's given me the idea to create a squad of UN-style peacekeeper Guadrsmen. Hmm...

  4. On the fluff side of the post, the part about the High Lords was interesting - got me thinking about the types of current world bodies that should seem to be highly powerful and influential (ie UN, NATO, IMF etc) but like the High Lords, scratch the surface and they are not - we aren't globalised at all - my view is that in the main (there are acknowledged exceptions) its still each country (read Imperial Sector/planet/Lord Militant/Chapter) out for their own interests/goal/glory, although sometimes those interests can overlap giving the sense of 'common purpose'.

    Keeping in the fluff world, there have been attempts that I am aware of to suggest some aspects of the Imperium do have the Imperiums citizens wellbeing at front and centre, and not necessarily the organ of the Imperium you would have expected - I'm thinking here of the Inquisition. I just finished of the Eisenhorn and Ravenor omnibus' and in both there are examples provided of the war for humanities soul leaving whole planets and systems in disarray, but the main characters and their broader organisations stopping all further action and lending a hand to stabilise and get the planet/system back on track for the 'greater good' of the wider Imperium.

    As to the real world aspects - I've always stuck by that axiom - treat/deal with others how you would expect them to treat with you. In our gaming world that translates to trying to make sure everyone is having fun. At work it means being inclusive and trying to ensure my colleagues, and through my actions, my organisation is seen to have the public good at heart.

    Echoing Drax - I think that first link is off somewhat!

  5. I think the fact that others were so bothered about things that they posted in the first place - inspiring me to write this - and that four of you replied so quickly (and Andy BG in conversation last night) - should be taken as a healthy sign that we are not morally bankrupt. And apologies for the wonky links.

  6. I think there's a certain amount of detatchment you can allow yourself since it is made up. In the same way that reading about a murder in a book, even a 'first person' perspective, would affect you in a totally different way. In a book, it's interesting, exciting, even somewhat enjoyable. And that doesn't make us morally bankrupt - fiction is a way for people to safely explore these sorts of things.

    So I am, I'm happy to admit, pretty relaxed about ignoring the moral aspect. I think there's enough of this going on in the real world to worry about the 40K setting - that said, the occasional nod to the darker side of GrimDark will bring an element of realism to the fluffwriter's taste.