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Games Workshop notes that space fascism would be bad

MGibster

Legend
We need the right balance between self-criticism and faith in ourself, both are necessary, but in excess both can also be wrong. And the writters should start to teach what are the true differences between a toxic boss and good leader. Do you remember Sgt Hartman in the movie "the metalic jacket"? In the real life he would be killed by a crazy recruit, but the soldiers would make sure it looked like an accident in the battlefield. The fiction tells about how to kill a tyrant, but nothing about to manage a nation or a company.
Gunnery Sargent Hartman was played by R. Lee Ermey who was an actual drill instructor in the United States Marine Corps from 1965-1967. And Ermey brought his own experience as a drill instructor to the role of Gny. Sgt. Hartman. I remember an interview were he talked about the scene where Hartman slaps Pyle to remind him of the difference between left and right. Hartman said something like, "We only have so many weeks to train these men before many of them would go into combat. If we had to slap someone to remind them which side was left and which was right, we slapped them."

And even in Full Metal Jacket, at the end of the basic training, Joker speaks almost admirably of the marine making process.

Joker said:
Graduation is only a few days away, and the recruits of Platoon 3092 are salty. They are ready to eat their own guts and ask for seconds. The drill instructors are proud to see that we are growing beyond their control. The Marine Corps does not want robots. The Marine Corps want killers. The Marine Corps wants to build indestructible men, men without fear.

There's a common belief that you can't really make an anti-war movie because they all end up glorifying it one way or the other. And Warhammer 40k is really no different. No matter how evil the Imperium is, the Space Marines, Imperial Knights, Sisters of Battle, and even the Imperial Guard all look pretty badass and heroic.
 

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Sometimes I doubted seriously about it was anti-totalitarian satire or subtel propaganda, something like "negative priming", showing something that is wrong to us get used to ignore them, or something "oh, yes, it is very wrong, but you can't fix it, it is better to accept and stand it".
Try reading Rogue Trader some time.

Meanwhile, here are some Space Marines busting a punk for graffiti, an overweight SM getting shot in the gut by an Ork, and another one cracking open a cold Pepsi.
 

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embee

Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
If any fascist Warhammer players are offended, they are free to participate in free-market capitalism and buy a copy of Myfarog.
 


I remember the movie "Starship Troopers", and it was a litle ambigous about it was pro-patriotic or anti-war satire.

My grandfather was in the Spanish civil war, and he told me if the sgt wanted to be serious, my grandpa answered "my sargeant, my sargeant!" with a sarcastic tone, like a warn if he bother him too much, he could "suffer an accident".

Maybe I liked the gothic look of W40K, because it was like the cover of a heavy metal disk, but knowing the lore, the Ecclesiarchy, with that mindset of "everything that couldn't be controlled by us has to be destroyed" or "if we can't understand it then we have to destroy it", they became too annoying for my taste. It was like joke too old to be funny now.

I like the grimdark but the light of the hope by the heroes shinning more.

I don't trust that type of writters and creators because they forget ethical values like the mercy and the human dignity. They are forgetting the great potential of the humankind to make possible a better tomorrow. We aren't perfect and we make lots of mistakes, but also we can saints or nobleheart.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
I remember the movie "Starship Troopers", and it was a litle ambigous about it was pro-patriotic or anti-war satire.

My grandfather was in the Spanish civil war, and he told me if the sgt wanted to be serious, my grandpa answered "my sargeant, my sargeant!" with a sarcastic tone, like a warn if he bother him too much, he could "suffer an accident".

Maybe I liked the gothic look of W40K, because it was like the cover of a heavy metal disk, but knowing the lore, the Ecclesiarchy, with that mindset of "everything that couldn't be controlled by us has to be destroyed" or "if we can't understand it then we have to destroy it", they became too annoying for my taste. It was like joke too old to be funny now.

I like the grimdark but the light of the hope by the heroes shinning more.

I don't trust that type of writters and creators because they forget ethical values like the mercy and the human dignity. They are forgetting the great potential of the humankind to make possible a better tomorrow. We aren't perfect and we make lots of mistakes, but also we can saints or nobleheart.
You've touched on this a number of times, and I feel like you are circling around this question:

Should fiction portray how the world is, or how it should be?

Different creators make different choices along that spectrum. I think it gets extra messy when the fiction you're creating is for a game that is played out by others. As much as you may condemn fascism, if your game requires people to play as fascists, well, it may be communicating something you don't intend.

I don't think GW should change their fiction, but it's an interesting conversation!
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I think there's room to examine issues like fascism in sci-fi, whether in a novel or as part of world-building. That's an entirely different issue to have jackholes dressing up like Nazis to attend a tournament. The latter is no reasonable excuse or reason to try and censor the former.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
You've touched on this a number of times, and I feel like you are circling around this question:

Should fiction portray how the world is, or how it should be?

Why should fiction be restricted to only one? Some can be about how the world is, some can be about how it should be. Both are valid.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Why should fiction be restricted to only one? Some can be about how the world is, some can be about how it should be. Both are valid.
I mentioned it being a spectrum later in the post.

But really anything in fiction can be pulled out into a spectrum of two things... It's just one way to analyze or deconstruct it.
 

MGibster

Legend
Maybe I liked the gothic look of W40K, because it was like the cover of a heavy metal disk, but knowing the lore, the Ecclesiarchy, with that mindset of "everything that couldn't be controlled by us has to be destroyed" or "if we can't understand it then we have to destroy it", they became too annoying for my taste. It was like joke too old to be funny now.
At this point it's more than thirty years old and it either gets old or becomes so familiar that it loses any bite it once had. I've seen some people complain about the cute artwork GW has been using on their website lately as well as the plush nurgling toy they're selling on their store. It's kind of like Cthulhu, after so many years of grim darkness it just kind of becomes so familiar that you can buy them in cute plushie form.

Why should fiction be restricted to only one? Some can be about how the world is, some can be about how it should be. Both are valid.
It occurs to me that part of the problem is that Warhammer 40k was created more than thirty years ago and the world just isn't the same. If the setting is partially a reaction to Thatcher's Britain, well, Thatcher hasn't been PM since 1990 which is likely before many Warhammer fans were born. They're not going to interpret the setting the same way someone born in 1977 might.
 

That story is an important lesson, absolutely. It's part of the reason I come down so hard now on borderline behavior at my gaming tables.

The article’s coda reminds me of Michael B. Tager’s story about the bartender throwing the “nice” Nazi out of the crust punk bar.

In the 80s, I feel like Warhammer 40K had a much clearer satirical intent, and somewhere along the line it moved to a more po-faced take.

Seeing people wearing Neo-Nazi shirts at a con is pretty horrific. I would point out that this occurrence likely did not just start here, going from 0 to Nazi. Things happened before this that made them feel safe in sporting their affiliation there. I think lots of us have seen these sorts of people putting out feelers, trying to see just how much they could get away with in a particular space. They likely blew right past checkpoints that should have brought barriers down on them before they got to this.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
It occurs to me that part of the problem is that Warhammer 40k was created more than thirty years ago and the world just isn't the same. If the setting is partially a reaction to Thatcher's Britain, well, Thatcher hasn't been PM since 1990 which is likely before many Warhammer fans were born. They're not going to interpret the setting the same way someone born in 1977 might.
It's not just that the world has changed, although it has. It's that the audience for Warhammer has changed. When launched, the audience was small . . . . mostly white, mostly British gamers who were already into D&D and/or tabletop wargames. Warhammer's audience today is global!

The satirical bent of the Warhammer universe(s) might have worked in the late 70s and 80s . . . . but it grows increasingly problematic as GW tries to have their cake and eat it too . . . . maintain the satirical and grimdark nature of the setting whilst trying to play up the heroic appeal to sell to more folks, of more cultures, of more ages.

My memory paints classic Warhammer Fantasy as just as dark, satirical, and dystopian as Warhammer 40K . . . . how does the much newer Warhammer: Age of Sigmar hold up in this regard? Are the Stormcast Eternals (fantasy space marines) as brutal and fascist as the Imperium's space marines? I've collected some of the Stormcast, but haven't gotten into the lore (because I find most Warhammer lore incredibly boring).

GW's in a tough spot. They canceled classic Warhammer Fantasy not because of the grimdark, but due to poor sales. Age of Sigmar was an opportunity to move away from the dystopian satire that some seem to take seriously. Can GW do the same with Warhammer 40K? 40K has consistently sold very well, so to do a similar reboot would be risky, with lots of grumpy fans decrying whatever changes are made. I would love it if GW had the corporate courage to do so, however! Include at least a few truly heroic factions in the game, even if that means retconning the space marines, or Tau, or whomever . . . . .
 

Starship Troopers may bee too subtile for the masses, the cultured people coud notice it, but not everybody. There were some details, but it was not enough.

The videogame "Doom" is very gore and grimmdark, but even here there is some pieces of hope, here the humankind is so stupid and brainless. Mortal Kombat is famous because it is very violent, but some characters are "points of light", honorable, true heroes, and even Luke Cage allows some elements of comedy. Robocop movies have got some litle of darkness, but here innocent lives can be saved.

In W40K all the population of a planet was "sacrificed", terminate, only to keep as secret the existence of the chaos. It is a background when it is too cynical then it becomes "boring" by the saturation. Here the Poe's law is somebody could undestard the morale of this story is "to survive against monsters you have to become one".
 

MGibster

Legend
GW's in a tough spot. They canceled classic Warhammer Fantasy not because of the grimdark, but due to poor sales. Age of Sigmar was an opportunity to move away from the dystopian satire that some seem to take seriously. Can GW do the same with Warhammer 40K? 40K has consistently sold very well, so to do a similar reboot would be risky, with lots of grumpy fans decrying whatever changes are made. I would love it if GW had the corporate courage to do so, however! Include at least a few truly heroic factions in the game, even if that means retconning the space marines, or Tau, or whomever . . . . .
Like Warhammer Fantasy, there's no reason for GW to make any bold changes to 40k until sales slip to the point where the line appears to be dying. It's entirely possible that what bothers some of their current audience today won't bother them so much 5-10 years from now. I'm kind of an outlier in that I don't really care all that much about the lore outside of having some thin justification for my my Imperial Knights are trying to stomp those Tau jerks' guts into the ground. (I was pretty much the same way with BattleTech, Warzone, and other such games as well.) I'm primarily interested in playing the game and modeling with the only lore I consume coming from some of the game books themselves and Youtube.

And quite frankly, I can't blame GW for being hesitant to make too many changes too quickly even in the face of changing opinions. Remember MC Hammer? When gangsta rap became more mainstream, he dropped the MC from his name and going by Hammer changed his image into that of a hardcore rapper. But we all remembered he wore parachute pants, he had a Saturday morning cartoon, had a song about praying, and for Pete's sake he had a video for the Addams Family Values movie so nobody in their right mind bought his new tough guy image. MC Hammer was talented and he was entertaining enough, he may have been able to weather the storm for a few years before re-establishing contact with his audience. He sure as hell couldn't do that once he became a laughing stock.

New Coke has been jokingly mentioned earlier, and I think the lesson from that debacle is that any company considering changing their core product had better tread lightly. You run a very serious risk of alienating your customers. And, really, I'm pretty much fine with the way Space Marines and Tau currently are. Though I wish the xenos got more support in the form of rules and models.
 

As GW grew and started getting kids as an audience/customers in the 90s, they toned down the adult satire a bit and tried to kind of play it both ways. Making the Imperial propaganda MORE true about Space Marines being heroic defenders of humanity, while still keeping the fact that it was a fascistic totalitarian society clear when you read between the lines.
Satire as a whole concept is a mirror. You recognise in it the twisted reflection of the thing it’s satirising.

But that assumes some knowledge of the satire’s target on the part of the consumer. As soon as kids & early teens became a major target audience for GW, the satire was inevitably less impactful even if it largely remained intact, simply because kids are exposed to Warhammer before they actually know anything about the politics etc it is/was satirising. Not the kids’ fault of course, just the way it is.
 
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GW wants their games to become multimedia franchises. They don't want to sell only miniatures, but also videogames, comics, novels and other products. But with the W40K if I sense the feeling of "I am surrounded by stupid!", the characters like the space marines are very powerful in the battlefield, but intellectually they leave much to be desired if we compare with others from other franchises.

Some reboots work, sometimes even better than the original ones.

The old warhammer could return, at least because they are making with the Total-War videogames.

* The time travel is almost canon in W40K. This means there is a open door if it was necessary in a future.
 

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