“Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be re-learned.
Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war.
There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods.”
~Tagline for the Warhammer 40,000 Tabletop Game
After reading these articles by Gogs and Ilda respectively about how Game of Thrones has uncomfortable similarities to life in the Philippines, I cannot help but compare the situation in the Philippines to another fantasy setting, this time the ever grim and ever dark Warhammer 40,000 which was made by Games Workshop in the U.K. in 1987. Warhammer 40,000 began as a mere spin-off of the original Warhammer Fantasy Battle which was more or less similar to other tabletop games of its time like the tabletop game for Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons. However, the reason why Warhammer 40,000 or simply “40k” for some became so popular was because it introduced elements of science fiction in an otherwise fantasy setting (i.e. spaceships, aliens, space marines, etc.) similar to the way Star Wars did. Unlike in the West, Australia and more developed parts of Asia, 40k never really became all that popular in the Philippines save for videogames that made it to our shores like the Dawn of War series and Space Marine.
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After reading up on the setting’s lore, I discovered that a lot of the nuances throughout the galaxy of 40k unsettling because of how familiar it all seemed. If you want a good look at the setting’s lore, you can check out this video.
Anyway, 40k became famous (or rather infamous) among other fantasy settings for its extreme darkness. One can say that 40k is to games as what Berserk is to anime. It is probably one of the worst depictions of dystopia ever and easily trumps George Orwell’s 1984 because of its sheer scale. This is a setting where everyone, including even the gods of the setting, are screwed and life for everybody sucks a hairy brown butt hole.
The 40k setting is massive and this article would end up becoming too long if I included everything so I will just include the most important parts that are relevant to the topic…
The Emperor of Mankind and the Imperium of Man
Let’s start with the Emperor of Mankind and the Imperium of Man as they perhaps bear the greatest resemblance to the Philippines. The Imperium of Man is a galaxy-wide empire populated solely by humans. While the Imperium possesses technology that allow them to travel rapidly between star systems, they are essentially a backward people who have little to no understanding of how technology even works and hold beliefs that more advanced aliens of the setting find laughable. The humans of the Imperium are a largely superstitious lot ruled by planetary lords (who are more or less feudal lords of the future) with Earth or Terra at its heart. Imperial humans are a xenophobic people and see all aliens (well, a lot of them are quite unfriendly in this setting) the way you might see a poisonous snake, even though forging a truce or at best a non-aggression pact with some of these alien races might seem beneficial. The Imperium of Man also has an undeniably Roman Catholic influence as pointed out by many fans as one just needs to take a look at their architecture and organization.
The Imperium of Man is constantly under siege by aliens, demons and monsters from without and plagued within by rampant crime, poverty and corruption. It is only through the brave sacrifice of billions of soldiers on a near daily basis that the Imperium manages to endure. Sadly, the common Imperial citizen is often too busy to find a way to feed his/her family to even notice that entire armies and fleets have sacrificed themselves just to stall an incoming enemy and buy civilians time to prepare and evacuate.
The Emperor is the mysterious figure who united humanity in the beginnings of the Imperial Age. He built for himself great armies of super-soldiers which conquered planets in the name of mankind and more or less carved humanity’s place in the galaxy. His greatest warriors were his Primarchs which were his clone-sons who lead his armies and great fleets of warships across the Milky Way.
The Emperor was a god-like figure who could wield psychic powers on-par with the deities of the setting. Strangely enough though, during his reign, he expounded the fact that he was not a god and that he was just the first citizen of his vast empire and encouraged scientific secularism among his people. The Emperor led mankind in a Golden Age of exploration and discovery but despite all his power, he too was largely flawed. While he certainly had the best intentions for humanity, he was not without faults and he was also noted for being one of, if not the, most ruthless leader of humanity in all its history. He crushed his enemies mercilessly and he would sometimes destroy whole planets that did not agree with the way he did things. Nonetheless, all seemed well during his reign and it was believed that mankind would finally become masters of the galaxy or even the universe.
Unfortunately, everything the Emperor did came to nothing when a full half of his sons rebelled against him. Forever remembered as the “Horus Heresy”, this brought the Emperor’s dreams for humanity at an end and resulted in his current miserable state. While he seems to be mostly dead, he is still kept alive by various instruments because it is believed that his spirit continues to protect and guide mankind as long as even just a glimmer of life remains in his wasted body and is worshiped as a god by his people.
The Ecclesiarchy is the ruling clergy of the Imperium of Man that greatly resembles the Catholic Church. One just needs to replace all the crosses in a Catholic structure with skulls and you get what kind of image the Ecclesiarchy projects. The Ecclesiarchy is the organization responsible for propagating and maintaining the Imperial Cult that worships the Emperor as a god.
The Ecclesiarchy is also responsible for keeping the people of the Imperium dumb because they believe that dumb is good. They think that a person seeking to accumulate knowledge for him/her self will attract the attention of the demons and evil gods. And, unfortunately, they’re right in this setting.
The Ecclesiarchy keeps close ties with governments on every world and makes sure that everyone worships the Emperor. Unfortunately, many clerics of the Ecclesiarchy openly ignore practices like sexual slavery, genocide and worse so long as governors pay them the proper lip service and support.
When people disobey or openly rebel against the Ecclesiarchy (or a demon does show up on the scene), they will send their army of female warriors the Adepta Sororitas to fix the issue. They are essentially warrior nuns who look like a mix of Joan of Arc, Iron Man and Lady Gaga.
THE ADEPTUS MECHANICUS
The Adeptus Mechanicus, who are sometimes called “Tech Priests” are the people responsible for maintaining technology in the Imperium of Man. Spaceships, weapons and robots, you name it, they supply it. Unfortunately, the Adeptus Mechanicus has no clear idea of how advanced technology actually works.
That’s right, they see their development and use of machines as a religion and not a science. They worship the technology they produce and don’t exactly understand everything about it. Thanks to their superstitious and backward mindset, the technology of the Imperium has advanced very little since the Emperor’s death. The Adeptus Mechanicus and by extension the whole Imperium see technology as a kind of magic instead of being, you know, objects of applied logic.
Developing technology too soon and too fast is often seen by Tech Priests as suspicious and is openly discouraged. That’s why even after ten thousand years, the Imperium is still stuck with its technology while more advanced alien races have access to more advanced weapons and equipment.
Chaos is the direct enemy of the Imperium and are one of the only two factions that all the other factions are willing to work together against. They are extra-dimensional monsters that are powered by the raw emotions of every sentient being across the galaxy. Superficially, they resemble the demons of antiquity with horns, bat wings and barbed tails. In actuality, daemons are actually creatures formed by emotions and powered by the beliefs of people.
The daemons of Chaos are divided into four distinct groups and are similar to how the Seven Deadly Sins work:
The god of war, rage and hate. There is little to say about Khorne save for the fact that he likes to fight, kill and watch other people fight and kill each other. Khorne hates anything that is not about fighting and, unlike the other Chaos Gods of the setting, doesn’t really care much for worshipers or temples.
He is thought to sit on a throne of skulls surrounded by a river of blood provided by both his worshipers and his worshipers’ enemies. He doesn’t particularly care who wins or who dies in any conflict as long as there are enough people fighting and dying in them.
Slaanesh is the god of excess but most people, including fans, associate him/her with sexual depravity. He/she is even nicknamed the “porn god” by 40k players. Slaanesh is often worshiped by the higher echelons of society, particularly vain celebrities and politicians. His worshipers often fit the oblivious aristocrat archetype who feast while everyone else is starving to death.
Tzeentch is the god of scheming, corruption and, strangely enough, hope. He is a Lovecraftian entity and a lot of his followers are mutants and multi-armed or multi-headed monstrosities. He often has many, many intricate plans all happening at the same time.
As mentioned in a previous article, the bulk of the followers of Tzeentch are an insane lot who seem to believe that hope is all that matters even if that hope is a false one. These are people who think that as long as there is hope for the future, things will be okay because they delude themselves with Tzeentch’s lies and false promises.
Nurgle is the god of disease, despair and, bizarrely, love and happiness. Nurgle and his followers are often depicted as disease-ridden and maggot-infested monsters who carry and spread disease everywhere. Despite their afflictions and grotesque appearance, Nurgle worshipers and creatures tend to be cheerful as they believe that their “happiness” will always see them through.
The followers of Nurgle are probably one of the most bizarre factions in the setting because of their mindset. They seem to find happiness in a galaxy that is mostly devoid of it and consider themselves “blessed” because of the disgusting diseases Nurgle rains down upon them. Never mind that your sister is now infested with a demon that looks like a writhing mass of worms burrowing through her flesh or your brother has turned into a bloated mass of cancer cells, as long as you love each other, then you will always be happy together. While certainly not the most numerous, the followers of Nurgle far outnumber the followers of the other Chaos Gods because they are mostly comprised of the poor masses who just want a little happiness in their lives even if it means getting afflicted with a deadly disease.
While 40k is a work of fantasy, a look at the mentioned concepts and factions above may give one suspicions that Games Workshop might have actually studied Philippine history and sociology for their world-building. I’m not really sure myself but I can’t help but notice just how similar the Imperium of Man is to Filipino society (minus the sci-fi and cool elements like the Space Marines or even the Adepta Sororitas). Whatever the case, I hope Filipinos wake up soon before we’re invaded by Tyranids or something like them.
“The Emperor Protects…”
I HAVE RETURNED TO LAY WASTE TO OUR ENEMIES!