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Made in us
Water-Caste Negotiator




Les Etats Unis

I was reading the back-catalogue of the "chaos as a non-threat" discussion Dakka has been collectively having over the past few days, and I found a really interesting point made by Tyel within the first few pages:

Tyel wrote:
I think its clear the fanbase (or online obsessives anyway) are divided on where they want the fluff to be or go.

Which could arguably be tied up with the tonal differences of "Grimdark but its ironic and funny", "Grimdark but VERY SERIOUS and grim. Seriously grim." and "Grimdark but isn't this awesome? Who doesn't like death everywhere. All the death!!! Also Guilliman is my spirit animal."

Filling in gaps is always difficult, because you potentially fill them in with something lame. Or just blatant contradictions. Which some people might not care about, but nerds are generally alienated by.


This idea is, in my opinion, a major point of difference between a lot of 40k fans, and deserves a thread of its own. We often talk about how 40k should be or how it was better or worse in the past, but a lot of our ideas may be coming from entirely different ideas of what the tone of the setting should be. Therefore, I want to ask: What should the 40k setting try to achieve, tone-wise, and why? Should it be a super-serious sci-fi war story, or a satirical and (dare I say it) politically-oriented depiction of humanity's future? Or is the fun of 40k just watching the big armor men fight with the angry green guys?

In addition, there is a serious argument to be made that no matter what the tone of 40k "should" be, GW has been fast approaching a solution which no one wants, which could be an interesting discussion in and of itself.

Dudeface wrote:
 Eldarain wrote:
Is there another game where players consistently blame each other for the failings of the creator?

If you want to get existential, life for some.
 
   
Made in gb
Regular Dakkanaut





I personally prefer the gothic horror and bleak dystopia face of 40k but isn't one of the best things about it that there are many sides of the coin?
   
Made in fi
Shas'ui with Bonding Knife






I think the main appeal of 40K is the ambiguity of the setting itself. Everyone has their own idea of what 40K should be, and I think everyone's vision should be valid, at least to themselves. Some like it epic to the max and absurd af, some like it "as realistic as possible" stiff upper lip nightmare dystopia with no hope, ever, some like it like the script writer of The Boys penned the storyline, with as much nihilistic humour as possible.. it's all good.

If you ask me, GW should try to remain as ambiguous about the tone of the setting as possible. That's why I liked it better in the 90's era because 40K was just a setting back then. There was ample room for any interpretation.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/07/23 08:05:02


 
   
Made in gb
Grim Dark Angels Interrogator-Chaplain





Cardiff

There still is.

 Stormonu wrote:
For me, the joy is in putting some good-looking models on the board and playing out a fantasy battle - not arguing over the poorly-made rules of some 3rd party who neither has any power over my play nor will be visiting me (and my opponent) to ensure we are "playing by the rules"
 
   
Made in au
Longtime Dakkanaut




I think one thing in a lot of media with a dark and realistic theme, is that the audience says they want it.
But really doesn’t want it, 40k seems to be getting the best response when it drops it’s grim dark for more power fantasy.

I find warmachine is a more Grim dark setting than 40k has been for years. And a lot of colourful sci fi settings look at themes that are way darker than the 40k setting really does.
40k is for most of its themes more a pulp horror feel to it, than the grim dark it is often herald as.
Modern 40k i often think of being shocking, but never wanting to touch on any themes that a more mature setting would.

Just how I feel about the modern setting of 40k, more comic book dark than anything really thoughtful or grim.


Edit for extra thoughts.
Also should be noted that you can do tone shifts in any setting, you could write some good horror in most mini and RPG games. If they focused on the setting narrative they could have a grim dark setting and still heroic individuals for those that like that.
It doesn’t help that 40k as a game has been bad for narrative play in most part, which tends to push players into more heroic style play with a focus on characters being centre stage all the time.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/07/23 08:45:45


 
   
Made in de
Longtime Dakkanaut





40K 2nd era did it right. Dystopian future in which everybody was more or less serious with the Orks acting as comic relief. Although once they squatted the Orks' humour in 3rd the tone of the setting went downhill fast because everybody was seemingly in a competition for being a stone-faced mudstick.
At least you had the Catachans emulating 80s action movie heroes for entertainment. Though I also need to give credit for the Imperial propaganda material in 3rd which explained the environment to the players. Special mention goes to the info letters every citizen of the IoM was given in case of Tyranid incursion. Those were pretty heartless.
   
Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut






I like the idea of the tone of the game to be defined by the lens of the narrator you choose.

The imperial propaganda machine needs to churn out fluff on how the aliens and mutants are evil and must be destroyed. The orks need to talk about how awesome life is 'cos there's fightin', in their generally carefree attitude. The tyranids need to be documented by every other race (I much preferred when the nid codex still kept everything as being from other races views, leaving things as supposition and guesswork) in the style of the other races. The t'au need to see the universe as having hope, the Eldar need to see the universe through their unique perspective, and so on.

Whilst "there is only war", what that means to the setting is different for each faction. Necrons and daemons view war as a means to an end, rather than anything particularly bad. Orks view it as fun, space marines view it as their duty, imperial guard view it as hell or as opportunity, depending on how the individual is inclined. The inquisition and super-fanatical emperor worshippers view it as a righteous crusade and a test for all their subjects. Nids view it as an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Summary - I think the tone of 40k should depend on the faction that is viewing it, and that this will better separate the feel of the armies from one another in a way that different numbers on a sheet can never do.

12,300 points of Orks
9th W/D/L with Orks, 4/0/2
I am Thoruk, the Barbarian, Slayer of Ducks, and This is my blog!

I'm Selling Infinity, 40k, dystopian wars, UK based!

I also make designs for t-shirts and mugs and such on Redbubble! 
   
Made in gb
Stern Iron Priest with Thrall Bodyguard



UK

There's a place for humour such as with orks misadventures, or tzeenchian guys screwing themselves over with the complexity of their own plans.

But dark and gritty should be the norm for most factions.
   
Made in de
Ork Admiral Kroozin Da Kosmos on Da Hulk






 some bloke wrote:
I like the idea of the tone of the game to be defined by the lens of the narrator you choose.

The imperial propaganda machine needs to churn out fluff on how the aliens and mutants are evil and must be destroyed. The orks need to talk about how awesome life is 'cos there's fightin', in their generally carefree attitude. The tyranids need to be documented by every other race (I much preferred when the nid codex still kept everything as being from other races views, leaving things as supposition and guesswork) in the style of the other races. The t'au need to see the universe as having hope, the Eldar need to see the universe through their unique perspective, and so on.

Whilst "there is only war", what that means to the setting is different for each faction. Necrons and daemons view war as a means to an end, rather than anything particularly bad. Orks view it as fun, space marines view it as their duty, imperial guard view it as hell or as opportunity, depending on how the individual is inclined. The inquisition and super-fanatical emperor worshippers view it as a righteous crusade and a test for all their subjects. Nids view it as an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Summary - I think the tone of 40k should depend on the faction that is viewing it, and that this will better separate the feel of the armies from one another in a way that different numbers on a sheet can never do.


This really nails it. I think reading the same lore from the view of the Orks, the Imperial Guard, Space Marines and Death Guard really is what makes 40k interesting.
Orks are there to have fun, build a new insane tech thing or to compete with another ork over something of little relevance to anyone else. Unchecked, they fight, drink, race and tinker just for the sake of doing it until the become a huge flood of orks in search of something to do, evolve into almost unstoppable fighting machines and create wonders of technology that not even best tech priests of Mars can hope to imitate , with the entire galaxy eventually just ending up as collateral damage.

The guard is there because they have to, many of them don't even want to be there but have been drafted or even believe that they are doing it for some sort of greater plan. They view Space Marines as mythical beings that are somehow above them and are essentially just throwing tacticians, material and people at enemies that humans with guns and tanks would normally not be able to defeat. It's the grimdark truth that every single one of them is going to die in battle before long and that none will every be able to go back and live in peace to reap the rewards from battles that were won under heavy casualties.

From a third view the Death Guard are competing for the cruel care of their god, for attention of their insane Primarch or for personal gain and power. They take the justification for their deeds and hatred from a conflict that most of the imperial citizens they are slaughtering by the billions aren't even allowed to know about and they care little, if at all, for their brethren if they die. On the other hand, they still try to uphold the legional structures that the emperor created, share his hate for xenos and traitors and operate as if the heresy had never happened, essentially making them all huge hypocrites, with Mortarion being the biggest one of them all. Hilariously, there is a scene where Gulliman tells him exactly that

So yes, the tone of 40k can be any of the above, depending on who is telling them.

Earth is not flat
Vaccines work
We've been to the moon
Climate change is real
Chemtrails aren't a thing
Evolution is a fact
Orks are not a melee army
Stand up for science!
 
   
Made in ca
Legendary Master of the Chapter





I tghink there's room for everything in 40k. I mean just because Ciaphas Cain is a thing doesn't mean you can't have grim and dark things like... Eisenhorn, both have their value

Opinions are not facts please don't confuse the two 
   
Made in ca
Regular Dakkanaut



Canada

Gothic, Grimdark, Ironic, Unironic, Horror, Action, whatever.

Anything but Marvel or Disney please.


This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/07/23 11:08:33


Old World Prediction: The Empire will have Clockwork Paragon Warsuits 
   
Made in de
Longtime Dakkanaut




(For me) definitely should embrace the absurdity, (often) dark humour and parody elements.

It's ultimately too silly to try to be all-in on serious, and IMO fails when it tries to be go down the (often seen in FW books, Heresy, etc..) road of de-saturated colours and "we're taking this dead serious".
   
Made in ie
Ruthless Rafkin





Ciaphas Cain hits it for me. Dark, gothic, horrific but with a sardonic tone. Honestly it really too broad of a setting to really give it a rigid structure too. That said the nobledark look they've been kind of edging towards is the last thing they should be doing. When Dark Imperium happened and Guilliman came back I reconciled its stupidity with the idea that Guilliman is fighting a doomed battle and he knows it, he hates what the Imperium has become but his sense of duty will push him to accept it despite himself and they cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy will destroy him in the end. But from what I understand that isn't really the case anymore and he's gone from "the ecclesiarchy is gak" to "the ecclesiarchy is neccessery so I won't let it bother me".

Likewise, I dislike A LOT about space marines and I'd hoped some interesting conflict would arise between the chapters with some rejecting them altogether and causing some strife but again, everyone just seems okay with it.

The human followers of the T'au creating a new warp entity also seems to have been swept under the rug.

It's weird to me that GW set up a bunch of tense situations within a bunch of factions at the launch of 8th only to sweep them under the rug.


 
   
Made in gb
Lit By the Flames of Prospero






 Sim-Life wrote:

The human followers of the T'au creating a new warp entity also seems to have been swept under the rug.

TBF it was a Dark Angels focussed book and T'au haven't had their 9th release yet. It also wasn't "swept under the rug" when it's specifically noted that the 4th Sphere T'au have slaughtered all of their auxiliary forces and many have had to be sent back to the Empire for therapy and re-education.

It's weird to me that GW set up a bunch of tense situations within a bunch of factions at the launch of 8th only to sweep them under the rug.

What kind of situations were set up? I'm not trying to be a prat but nothing has particularly stood out as anything more than the usual slow eating away of the Imperium by numerous enemies.
   
Made in gb
Hungry Ork Hunta Lying in Wait





Tone? Nuln oil over Lead Belcher.

Oh right, fluff.

I think its a real mixture, but always warped into dystopian and darker themes.

Dan Abnetts Eishenhorn and Ravenor series painted a picture of different cultures and worlds, people is completely opposite sectrums of life and cultures but the same miasma of decay, or stagnation and hopelessness.

I love the bright candles of hope in 40k, and the knowledge its a rare island of calm which will soon by under siege by limitless horrors and machinations but they'll keep on fighting since as we know, in the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.
   
Made in us
Dive-Bombin' Fighta-Bomba Pilot






Personally I am in the "grimdark, but its ironic and funny" side of things.

Its genetically engineered super soldiers who either worship a golden guy on life support who might also be a god now in the warp because people collectively believe, or worship emotions made manifest in hell. Hell is a place you can physically go, also faster than ligth travel is accomplished by making a soap bubble of reality and poking a hole in reality to move through said hell.

a long time ago there were basically gods (old ones) but they refused to help other sentient being (Necrontier) so they found another form of god willing to help them at a price (Cthans) and turned themselves into robots to fight the selfish other gods.

Old ones make or at least influence space elves who then make their own actual gods through collective belief that are distinct from the other bad emotional gods in the warp. (borrowing from greek mythology basically) They also make fungus monsters who know how to keep multiplying and fighting through programmed biology, but that biology forgets the brain boyz part because its funnier that way.

The old ones get taken out and their maybe creations, maybe manipulated people (eldar) create a new god of hedonism and split into 4 factions (3 represented on table tiop, where are my exodites GW?) spiky pain elves live in between reality which is apparently a thing now, monk elves live in a few celestial system or planet space ships (depending on the author) that have limited popultions except when they need it to seem more dire or less dire (also dependant on the author). The last group of elves live in a library and preform plays around the galaxy (the actual heroes of the story)


The human cattle that serve the administratum also get organized into non genetically modified soldiers to have thier lives thrown away be it on a battle field or making weapons armor and other things to feed and arm the constant battles. There are religious power armored women in nuns due to a legal technicality of no men in arms serving the church of the golden corpse. Also (later in the game) stompy robots for everybody and they remember planes exist. Also, Also there is a cult of priest that have a machine fetish and get thier own army later but they were always there.

Then some anime battle suits and fish people show up for some reason pretending to be good guys but turns out they have ulterior movies (surprise) and want to basically become the new administratum over the galaxy in a captain planet or avatar the last air bender type elemental caste system.

Now we also have super hungry alien bugs who just want to eat everything (truly the heroes they deserve) and spear out spies to weaken forces to make sure dinner isn't spoiled too badly by losses due to indigestion.

In short that is all just so terribly awfully bad (except the harlequins, they are cool). Honerable mentions of not being "Bad" are orks due to being genetically programmed for this, and they Tyranids who just want lunch. Its grim dark to the point of humerous as if the tyranids win and eat everything not in the webway (which would mayeb wipe out everything including the sadist elves who could not longer feed off those in the real world). what replaces it can't possibly be worse as life starts again at the guidance of the harliquins.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/07/23 12:40:10


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Made in us
Tunneling Trygon




Mexico

40k has the freedom to have different tones depending on the story. But the general setting for the tabletop? Should be funny, it is a game and the purpose of a game is to have fun.

Moreover grimdark doesn't really work with a serious tone, and I would argue that most of the stories set in 40k are not really grimdark, but "only" dark (which can work with a serious tone).

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/07/23 12:59:05


 
   
Made in gb
Enginseer with a Wrench




Bath

I think their is room for multiple tones within the greater banner of 40K. One thing i would like to see more of is a greater push away form "absolute" truths towards "relative" truths. I feel their has been a move in many settings towards a single, defined and immutable truth, that cannot be deviated form. and honestly, I dont like it. i feel that a little wiggle room is good, it lets other add to and improve the narrative in creative ways that enrich the work as a whole.

Events and history should be blatantly biased by the storytellers viewpoint, and ideally their should be alternate versions of the event form another viewpoint that directly contradict some parts of the 1st narrative, reinforcing that these tales are just that, TALES, that details large and small might be wrong. One side should record a battle as being a defeat, form which they withdrew in good order, to conserve their forces and continue the war, while the other records the same battle as them vanquishing a fleeing and broken enemy, who never troubled the area again, etc, etc.

It would require a bit of work, namely a central "clearing house" to ensure that books written years apart can match up to report on the same events, but it would be awesome. it would add back in that ambiguity about what actually happened, allow for wiggle room in the lore, etc. Did Abaddon really launch 13 crusades, or have the efforts of his allies and underlings been blamed on him? Do most marines strictly adhere to the Codex, or do most deviate to some greater or lesser degree? are the Tau as nice as they make out or just the Imperium with better PR? you get the picture.

Also, the inherit absurdities of the girmdark setting should be acknowledged and explored. A inquisitor might crack down hard on a chaos cult in a hive, but cause such collateral damage that thousands of hivers are driven into the arms of chaos, as anything would be an improvement on their current situation, etc.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/07/23 13:19:50


Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` Tommy, 'ow's yer soul? "
But it's " Thin red line of 'eroes " when the drums begin to roll
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's " Thin red line of 'eroes, " when the drums begin to roll.
"Tommy", Rudyard Kipling
Exporitor force kappa-Tercia 500pts Coven of XVth 1000pts
Western Host 1000 pts
 
   
Made in ca
Dour Wolf Priest with Iron Wolf Amulet






Canada

Gimme grimdark but ironic any day. Not necessarily saying that they have to be winking at us outright with everything, but when the universe is at its most miserable it should feel like they're leaning into pitch-black humour rather than being like "OMG this is so dark and gritty, unlike other sissy stories for babies, doesn't this miserable universe reflect how mature I am?"

I think of it similarly to how in the 70s and 80s Judge Dredd was blatantly satirical and used its dark humour to show how Mega City One was a crapsack world. But then in the 90s edgelord writers like Mark Millar and Garth Ennis took away a lot of the irony in stories like Judgement Day and Inferno and it just felt like it was glorifying the fascism at that point.

   
Made in de
Terrifying Doombull






Nuremberg

Tone wise I think it's best when it's walking a line between satire and pulp. Kind of like the best 2000AD stories. It should be saying something about it's universe that is meaningful but also not taking itself too seriously. The odd joke to the reader (but not to the people in the setting) is perfectly fine and clues us in on the fact that these very serious people in this very grim future are not really to be taken seriously in themselves.

Edit to add: It should also have the feeling of being vast and mysterious, with lots of space for people to make up their own stuff and lots of room to interpret things within the setting.

I think the worst tone for 40K is the excited fanboy tone that some of the writing has, where heroes are made out to be completely over the top and superlative like some shounen anime protagonist. This is pretty common for a good long while now and is the main lens that a lot of people view the setting through. Having an ongoing narrative with a small collection of super powered heroes and villains they always beat but never kill leads itself naturally to this sort of storytelling which gradually infects the rest of the tone.

I still like reading the odd novel set in the 40K universe and thinking about the setting, but I feel more and more alienated from the official setting as presented by GW and the discussions online that rely on an encyclopedic knowledge of hundreds of mediocre to poor novels.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/07/23 14:02:04


   
Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut



London

The 80s! But in sppaaacceee..

You know, like Rogue trader

The 80's were a terrible time for much of the world...
   
Made in ca
Legendary Master of the Chapter





Goose LeChance wrote:
Gothic, Grimdark, Ironic, Unironic, Horror, Action, whatever.

Anything but Marvel or Disney please.




wtf does "disney or marvel" mean?

cause the Marvel Marinus Calgar comic actually was suprisingly good

Opinions are not facts please don't confuse the two 
   
Made in ca
Kroot Carnivore





In a universe as vast as 40k, I'm constantly baffled by the concept that it's supposed to have a single tone.

I mean Grim/Dark is all well and good, but every inhabitant in every tiny corner of the galaxy can't possibly be miserable all the time.

It's great to be dark and serious, and I love that kind of thing, but one of my favorite series is the Caiaphas Cain books, because damn it, we need some humor from time to time. How else does anyone survive the madness of the 41st Millennium?

Also having an ostensible "Good Guy" or "Good Faction" doesn't make the universe not Grim/Dark. The closest we have now are the Tau, but with the what the Ethereal caste's deal likely is, that's probably not the case. Honestly, if someone told me to list all the characters I'd consider actual "Good Guys" at the moment, it would literally just be Commander Farsight. Sure some would be within the ballpark like Guilliman they are constrained within the systems that they live.

Sorry, I guess I got a little of topic. What I mean, is that it should be everything. 40k should be a setting, not a theme. It should have its Grim/Dark, but also have it's Adventure, Comedy, Mystery, dare I say Romance? It's all out there, and none of it invalidates the other themes/tones that are out there. It's a big Galaxy.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/07/23 21:23:54


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Made in ca
Regular Dakkanaut



Canada

What isn't romantic about a chainsword ripping through the chest of a Hormagaunt under the pale moonlit sky?

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/07/23 22:24:25


Old World Prediction: The Empire will have Clockwork Paragon Warsuits 
   
Made in us
Humorless Arbite





California

I did prefer things back between the dawn of war 1 and 2 era. The game was more of a setting then, like a sandbox for the players. Now GW is trying to drive the narrative and is altering things (like blowing up biel-tan). I personally didn't like the change of necrons from their more intimidating and creepy lore into space tomb kings (loss of pariahs too). There was some good things though like the artistic revamp of dark eldar.

I personally like the really serious and grim stuff. But there is room for some tongue in cheek humor here and there. But it also depends on the army, Orks can get away with being comical but Drukhari not so much, that would ruin them.

 
   
Made in ca
Regular Dakkanaut



Canada

 Thargrim wrote:
I did prefer things back between the dawn of war 1 and 2 era. The game was more of a setting then, like a sandbox for the players. Now GW is trying to drive the narrative and is altering things (like blowing up biel-tan). I personally didn't like the change of necrons from their more intimidating and creepy lore into space tomb kings (loss of pariahs too). There was some good things though like the artistic revamp of dark eldar.

I personally like the really serious and grim stuff. But there is room for some tongue in cheek humor here and there. But it also depends on the army, Orks can get away with being comical but Drukhari not so much, that would ruin them.


I think GW took a lot of influence from Warmachine/Hordes, a constantly evolving story lends itself well to DLC-like sales schemes. A never ending churn of new models and rules.

Captain Victoria Haley mk5 Prime 2.0 : The Returnining

Old World Prediction: The Empire will have Clockwork Paragon Warsuits 
   
Made in ca
Kroot Carnivore





 Thargrim wrote:
I did prefer things back between the dawn of war 1 and 2 era. The game was more of a setting then, like a sandbox for the players. Now GW is trying to drive the narrative and is altering things (like blowing up biel-tan). I personally didn't like the change of necrons from their more intimidating and creepy lore into space tomb kings (loss of pariahs too). There was some good things though like the artistic revamp of dark eldar.


Yeah, I miss Pariah's too and the good old green plastic rods.

I wasn't a big fan of the Necron lore revamp at first, but they more I thought about it, the more I realized that originally, they were basically just machine version of the Tyranids; which was cool, but not really unique. Now they really do feel like their own thing. I guess you could say their lore has grown on me.

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Loyal Necron Lychguard





I honestly really hate the old Necron lore. There's the fact that they basically filled the same thematic niche as Tyranids being the Inevitable End, but for me the biggest sticking point is the C'tan being the "leader" units of the faction. I like Necrons. I want the army to be run by Necrons, not this completely separate thing with a completely different aesthetic. The revamped lore does a much better job of fulfilling the Undead Legions theme.

Some of the post-5e vehicles are pretty bad, Tomb Blades and such getting in the way of a plodding skeleton army feel, though the 9e releases have all been pretty spot on with what I want the army to look like.
   
Made in us
Boosting Black Templar Biker






Goose LeChance wrote:
Gothic, Grimdark, Ironic, Unironic, Horror, Action, whatever.

Anything but Marvel or Disney please.


Same for me. I like the many versions of 40k tone, but please don't Marvel/Disney-fy it. Space Marines aren't the Avengers and the Imperium aren't the good guys and yet the marketing is chasing that.
   
Made in nz
Road-Raging Blood Angel Biker



New Zealand

My preference is like the dark days of WW2, when Europe was overrun. Times are tough, everything is directed to the war effort, and it looks like we may be overrun. But we are holding them off, at cost, for now. There is hope but it is slim, hard, costly, and distant.
   
 
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