On Inspiration and Historical Reference: What is 40k?


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Post Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:01 pm

On Inspiration and Historical Reference: What is 40k?

Some positively minded thoughts on the way Warhammer 40'000 has been crafted, in a shorthand version. It's meant as something of a celebration about the founders of 40k's fruitful bonkers vision and the rather good way it objectively has been handled since Rogue Trader (though I do prefer much of the 80s vision). I skipped a section about its obvious satirical roots, just in case it would generate unwelcome discussions on some other forums. :)

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Post Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:59 am

Re: On Inspiration and Historical Reference: What is 40k?

I'm increasingly thinking that Wh40k was irreversibly ruined by late Rogue Trader and 2nd edition in a similar way Star Wars was ruined by the sequel trilogy. Like there's similar level of badness, loss of themes, lack of proper direction, we have Space Marines becoming Rey, TEH EPIC, etc. Except that there's no frothing nerds making noise on youtube about it.

I wouldn't say that Warhammer 40k is just harmless. I would say that Warhammer 40k is beneficial. Warhammer 40k helped me to become the strong person that I am now. Not plagued by doubt and guilt but having a solid foundation of Conviction.

My first contact with Wh40k was when I saw it in a toy/boardgame/miniatures store when I was 10 or 11 or something. I was very poor so I couldn’t play it. I just got the introduction booklet. I fell in love with the miniatures and tried to create my own. Unfortunately I didn’t know how, so most of the effort was wasted. I tried to sculpt by cutting miniatures out of cooked polymer clay. Got some interesting scars from these times.

The first and only tabletop Wh40k game I got was Battlefleet Gothic, I think in 2000 or 1999. Soon I started buying White Dwarf and Warhammer Monthly. When I first really got into Wh40k I was in really bad place in life - I was stuck in a toxic high school and struggling due to being disabled after toxic primary school.
In last two years of primary school I was targeted by two psychological abusers which slowly eroded my mental and physical health. I started suffering from insomnia, school phobia, social anxiety, depression, IBS, etc. which prevented me from getting decent school attendance or getting and keeping a job.

At that point I understood at that point that the society is corrupt and evil and no longer has legitimacy. I was very lucky that I got into Wh40k in these trying times.

I was buying White Dwarf since March 2000 until March 2003 and Warhammer Monthly since November 2000 until August 2003 when my life basically fell apart and I couldn’t afford them any more.

In 2000-2004 I finally got some information about how miniatures are and was trying to become a sculptor. But at some point it became impossible for me to focus for extended period of time, so my last miniatures were from December, 2004. All I got left from that period is some broken miniatures, three blisters of greenstuff in my closet, two sculpting tools and mega paint set.

IIRC major reason why I stopped sculpting besides concentration issues was buying Chaos Warriors and realising how crappy the miniatures really are and generally getting disillusioned about Citadel miniatures. When I learned sculpting I learned stuff like proportion and I simply found the heroic scale off-putting and grotesque.

In 2001, August, I bought White Dwarf 260 and its Index Astartes article was about a Space Marine Legion that changed my life. Night Lords. I loved their background, their tactics, their Primarch.

They were wonderfully dark and brutal, using terror tactics.

As Konrad Curze said, “Space Marines know no fear for we are fear incarnate”.

Also, I loved the dark, doomed, tragic story of their primarch. It resonated a lot with me.

I loved the story of Konrad Curze, the Night Haunter bringing justice to the criminal world of Nostramo – maiming, torturing, killing the wrongdoers and leaving their corpses for people to find.

There was a short story in it describing their tactics which was quite delightful. My favourites were detonating nuclear bombs in unpopulated areas and causing a nuclear winter.

Another great influence on me was Lord of the Night in 2008.

Warhammer 40k was a major influence on me becoming interested in World War I and French tanks of Interwar in 2009 and getting deeper into military history. Also inspired me to create my own WWI-inspired settings.


Philosophically, Warhammer 40k taught me that life is a struggle against malicious enemies, internal and external.

I have found various Warhammer 40k sayings of wisdom very enlightening.

My favourites are:

“There can be no bystanders in the battle for survival. Anyone who will not fight by your side is an enemy you must crush.”


That’s the primary Truth of social reality that dispenses with the myth of innocence.

“The justice of your action is measured by the strength of your conviction.”


I find this quote very empowering.

“Hate! Hate! Hate!

An emotion as pure as it is deep!
Hate! Hate! Hate!
Let it flow, let it run free!“

“Hate enriches”

“Hatred is the Emperor's greatest gift to humanity.”


“The Emperor asks only that you hate”


“The Emperor bestows upon us the gift of intolerance.”


Warhammer 40k has taught me that it’s okay to hate, it’s okay to be intolerant, it’s okay to have all these dark thoughts and feelings, they all exist for a purpose. It illustrates that the purpose is to survive in the galaxy of foes.

“Death is the servant of the righteous.“


Killing is a solution to many problems.

“Burn the Heretic!

Kill the Mutant!
Purge the Unclean!“


Warhammer 40k has taught me to put my enemies into boxes illustrating their exact nature.

“The justice of your action is measured by the strength of your conviction.”


Another very wise quote. There are many false measures like laws and opinions of others. Ultimately, one man with conviction is worth more than 100,000 men with interests.



“Do not waste your tears. I was not born to watch the world grow dim. Life is not measured in years, but by the deeds of men.”


“Every human life is a spark in the darkness. It flares for a moment, catches the eye, and is gone forever. A retinal after-image that fades and is obscured forever by newer, brighter lights.”

“For every battle honour, a thousand heroes die alone, unsung, and unremembered.”

“Life is a prison, death shall be my release”

“Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.”

General wisdom regarding human fate.



“Innocence proves nothing“

“Nobody is innocent, there are merely varying levels of guilt.”

More quotes addressing the myth of innocence.

“My armour is contempt.“

Empowering words.

“The Age of Battle has begun.The fires of war burn brightly from star to star. Everywhere the fortresses of Man are steeped in blood and ancient enemies appear from the darkness. Sensing weakness they gather for the kill. They know as we know that night approaches and all mortal life shall be extinguished. We know, as they cannot, that there shall be a new dawn and a new day when we will rise and they will be driven into the darkness forever.“

Again it’s a great morale-raising quote in this world where inhuman hordes of evil attack from all sides.

“The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Imperium.”


“The road to purity is drenched in the blood of the martyred.”

Reminds that martyrdom is sometimes necessary for defence of greater values.

“The cosmos cries out for salvation“


It is true!

“The keenest blade is righteous hatred.“


Empowering words of wisdom.

“The more one learns of the alien, the more one will come to loath it.“

Very true!

“There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter and the laughter of thirsting gods.”


Pretty much the truth about the society. It's something I finally understood back in 2013. When I realised that there's a silent war going on and the myth of innocence was dispelled.
I was working for my mother’s company doing CAD drawings for years, and my mother’s company was doing contracts for local governments. So, in 2013, I went to another city to bring an offer for a public procurement call for bids and then I stayed for the opening. That was the first time I realised who is the real enemy.

For a long time I thought it’s my father and family courts, then taxmen, then violent criminals, then crooked politicians, etc. etc. etc.

Finally I saw the truth with my own eyes.

During the opening, there were two young women. Who looked like normal decent people. They were wearing sweaters and jeans, not anything degenerate like suits. The thing is that there were my mortal enemies, fighting for survival. Who will live and who will die. We won the contract and they lost. We lived. I never saw them again despite that I was on call for bid openings many times there later.
This experience, was eye-opening. I finally knew who is the real enemy in this war of annihilation. I was in one room with them, realised they are humans like me, not some abstract force.

I realised the truth of the saying:
“There can be no bystanders in the battle for survival. Anyone who will not fight by your side is an enemy you must crush.”


It’s the primary Truth of social reality that dispenses with the myth of innocence. Who will capture this position, who will capture this resource, who will capture this workplaces, who will capture this scholarship? Who will live and who will die? This is the silent war of annihilation.
Later when I was applying for jobs or internships, sometimes I’d see other candidates and I’d realise they are my mortal enemies in a battle for survival.

Also, what follows is that everyone outside, at least in one territory is an enemy. Every single person from outside of the closest support group.

Then there’s the whole setup, the whole swindle where one is selected by the society for psychological liquidation. Looking at enemies like for example bullies and other abusers ruining one’s health at school, one needs to look at the true enemy behind them that gains the biggest advantage from it - the high functioning students. One can clearly see that so called innocence is a myth.



And of course the most beautiful one, my eternal favourite, A Galaxy of Damnation from 3rd ed Rulebook:

“Yes it is true what you may have heard whispering amongst the catacombs betwixt the night and nether-night! Why not say it out loud for all to hear. Let the fools doubt and sneer, it matters not. Be proud of your humanity and keep it unsullied and blessed.

This is as my Master told it to me and now I tell it to thee.

There are a billion names of damnation! A billion kinds of things that slither and slime and defile the land and sea and wind. Each thing is a kind of sin spawned by man’s evil. And that man is very sinful there are many of these damned things and their power is great.

As the purpose of all things in nature is to increase so it is with the damned. They would we joined them and so they seek to overcome us. In alien forms they assault us. In sleep they come to spread doubt and fear among us. They would corrupt our hearts and see us damned too. Trust them not nor suffer them to live.

For each alien destroyed is a soul freed from eternal bondage. Each mortal alien life extinguished is a human soul raised to glory. Thus our eternal destiny is written in the blood of the alien.

With sword and spear destroy the alien. With cannon shot and gun blast smash the alien. With laser beam and searing plasma scatter the alien to the stars. With tooth and fist and hammer blows, with axe and shell and poison-bombs, with virus-charge and thermal mines!

Kill them! Kill them! Kill them all!

As my Master told it to me I now tell it to thee that thou shalt tell others in thy turn.”


Warhammer 40k taught me that hate is okay. It's not only okay. It is good. Hate is virtuous.

The quotes and also images like this one:
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are great because they can be easily adapted for propaganda purposes. The quotes are especially great because one can replace xenos/mutant/heretic with one's biological and ideological enemies in the grand struggle that is life.

Even this image is inspiring and empowering:
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It was a huge inspiration for me in the grim darkness of early 2010s.
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Post Thu Jul 30, 2020 7:11 pm

Re: On Inspiration and Historical Reference: What is 40k?

^I'm a bit lost on how to respond to that. Rogue Trader is filled with what I would call the "unreliable narrator." I wouldn't take it to be a celebration of hatred and anger so much as an indictment of it. The exaggerated darkness serves to demonstrate the danger of hollow nationalism and xenophobia. It demonstrates the futility of war and violence. They achieve nothing tangible in Rogue Trader.

I am very sorry for what you suffered in school. I sincerely am. I too suffered abuse at the hands of my peers and their elders. And I am glad you were able to find solace in the world of fantasy. It's a useful escape for us when the real world is most unbearable. But I would strongly advise against taking the wrong lessons from any kind of fiction. It's an unreliable guide to morality and ethical action. It's at best an intentionally exaggerated reflection of reality intended to illustrate some point or other. At worst it's a distortion built to mislead in order to advance some undisclosed end. Usually it's somewhere between these two; perhaps just a good romp with no particular ethical or political objective.

In the end, it's wise to remember that we are all human, that we all have value, that we all have our internal struggles and our joys. And that there is more for us all to enjoy and less struggle and suffering if we work together and treat each other as human.

And when that's done . . . let's go out, set some beautiful miniatures on the table, and toss some dice.

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