Thursday, 12 September 2013

Re-Imagining The Imperium


Following on from my post yesterday about a revised Eldar, I thought I would spend some time ruminating on the Imperium, the galaxy spanning empire of man.

In the earlier versions of the background as featured in Rogue Trader, the Imperium is a dystopian nightmare run by a faceless administration nominally under the control of the Emperor, an ancient husk that that has been kept alive in a throne like apparatus somewhere on Terra.

As the background was developed, it turns out that he's been kicking around for thousands of years and had created a number of super humans called the primarchs and surprisingly they didn't see eye to eye and with the aid of a lot of gribbly chaotic space monstrosities they soon turned the vastness of the Imperium into a gigantic battlefield.

To cut a long story short, its all a bit grim with every new edition of the rules, it got darker until it became GRIMDARK! With the weird combination of fascism and communism, coupled with a strangely medieval overtone, the dark humour of Rogue Trader vanished and got replaced with a grindingly gloomy universe where humanity is doomed no matter what, be it from the incursions of Chaos or the ravenous Tyranid hive fleet or some other equally grim fate.

Now lets try re-imagining this all a bit! What if the Emperor wasn't some crusty husk but the latest in a long line of nobles who oversees a more vigorous Imperium which is still authoritarian in style but relies on an ever shifting alliance of noble families and megacorporate interests.

Amongst this backdrop of backstabbing and skulduggery, one can imagine all manner of colonial adventurism and exploitation of whole planetary populations which in turn would bring into play some sort of rebellion against the repressive regime.

The Imperium has a huge standing army, the Imperial Guard, a massive organisation featuring regiments raised from all over the Imperium, featuring all manner of human and "civilised" alien species which have been integrated into the Imperium over the years.

This is a concept I've never understood about the Games Workshop setting as throughout history, all the great empires of Earth have incorporated native levies and client kingdoms but the GW Imperium just wipes them all out in a for of xenophobia...

Along side this massive army, there's the legendary Space Marine legions, the Emperors super human enforcers. Armed with the best weapons and equipment they are a mixture of terror troops and humanities best hope.

I do like the idea of them being recruited from savage worlds and cultures to ensure they haven't lost their edge with the trappings of civilisation but why is it so many of the earlier imagery the marines all have strikingly similar features. I'm sure there's some guff about their gene seed giving them all the appearance of the original primarchs but rather like the idea of them being clones!

Now the GW setting involves a great distrust of technology but what if there was an acceptance of tech allowing for all manner of droids, high tech weaponry and similar goodness instead of the space dark age.

There's the Adeptus Mechanicus of Mars which are the machine cult but their primitive use of technology could do with some revision. How can they strive for the perfection of the machine when they don't even know how half their tech works? Imagine them being more like the Syntha of Void 1.1 or Cybertronic of Warzone with the use of AI and cybernetics being perfected to a high degree and giving it a more sleek and clean look than the loads of rivets, pipes and zombie flesh of current style.

Hopefully this will give me some inspiration for some more exciting forces and characters for the upcoming campaign!

In the meantime, I found these rather awesome conversions of Eldar Howling Banshees online:

I believe they are converted from non GW figures but they look absolutely brilliant!

All the best!


  1. Good work with the IP lane change. Chuck in some stable Psyker mutants (that don't get eaten by Daemons before their 18th birthday) for me.

  2. Well, I love what you're doing with the source material; the Dune comparison gives you another touchstone as you develop the "feel" of your take on the Imperium.