Posts Tagged With: Lost Imperium

Which Imperium is Lost?

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time thinking about ProtoTraveller, as well as my idea of the “Lost Imperium” setting actually being a Traveler game rather than a Dark Heresy game. Another interesting spin that combines that idea with the canon Traveller universe would be a similar  “trip over a Ancient’s trapdoor” during either the Civil War or the Psionic Suppressions.

It doesn’t quite answer the question though – an full-sized WH40K Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade had enough people to found a empire. Whatever it is that meant to escaped from the Traveller universe wouldn’t be nearly so big (ok, I suppose I could posit some other weird Jump Space effect hat simply captures a bunch of ships all at one time or something).

Just something I ponder while I wait for the D&D 5e game to come about!

D.

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Wow! On an entirely different note…

I had the insight that my “Lost Imperium” idea for an alternate Dark Heresy game would also make a fantastic Traveller campaign – especially with the Mongoose rules that have all sorts of pointers towards the WH40K setting. I’m kind of amazed that I never seriously considered it. I spent so much time wrestling with the question of how to “fix” the Imperium to get an ATU that I could live with I never realized that all of the elements I was looking for are pretty much already present:

Imperial Nobility, Interstellar Trade, Stellar Empires, Alien Races, Psionics, High Tech, Low Tech, Lost Tech, “Ancients”, Cybertech, Lost Colonies, New Colonies, Interstellar Wars, Powered Armor, Imperial Agents, etc. etc. etc.

Really, it’s all a pretty nifty fit in a good many ways – the only clear boggle I can see is the basic (and somewhat fundamental) lack of Adventurer-class ships – unless of course I posited a change in the tech (and I could do that if I wanted I suppose).

I mean, yes, it’s a radical re-envisioning of a Traveller setting, but not as radical as someone who prefers a Proto-Traveller setting instead of the fully-fledged OTU from the height of the GDW era. I was never a huge fan of the Rebellion, enjoyed the old Paranoia Press and Judges Guild versions of the (then) ATU, even the last bits of the Classic Traveller OTU were pretty enjoyable – but the Rebellion was kind of “meh”… I actually enjoyed Hard Times more than the Rebellion and that is pretty darn sad when you think about it.

(Yes, I thought TNE was an abomination just like everyone else. Bad system, worse setting…)

Now, I’m enjoying the heck out of 5e right now and no desire to switch games any time soon, but this is kind of nice to have in my hip pocket. I always run better games when I can let my brain gnaw at an entirely different setting and system.

TTFN!

D.

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LOL! Yeah, there’s been another slight break here…

Apologies for that, life and work has been busy.

A sad part is that I haven’t really been gaming. There was a little bit of Dark Heresy with my son that led to the musings on the Lost Imperium project, I’m not done with that, I think it would be lots of fun to run. I’ve been talking with my spouse about running a small little Artesia game just for the two of us and at the same time revisiting the “Pulp Cthulhu” (using Call of Cthulhu) game that I was running for my son and KT.

I’ve also been doing some real pondering about what went wrong with my AD&D game. In some ways that’s not a fair statement because I know people had fun, but I think I burned out a bit faster than I was expecting. It was also more of a s=chore to pick the game up again after 15 years and start running it.

Part of that was having other old-time AD&D players in the game (KB & CB) who were used to their own house rules and who have been playing in a several edition long campaign elsewhere (now in some 3.5E version IIRC). Going back to 1E was a great blast from the past for them, but I really had some very different house rules that they weren’t used to and I was also getting used to AD&D again on top of rebuilding an old set of house rules.

Some of the new house rules don’t work as well as I’d like (and will get tweaked again), some work really well, and in some ways I’m wondering if I was/am trying to make things too neat and clean. Now part of it was trying to come up with a coherent version of some of my older tweaks to character classes (Bards, etc) and make it easier for newer players who hadn’t been playing the game for years and didn’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of old articles, character classes, spells, magic items, etc.

At the same time, my campaign world has another 15 years of non-AD&D development and that has taken it away from a straight AD&D game as even just perusing my character races would show. That said, one of the things I’ve realized is that I either need to dial down the powers of non-humans (which I’m loathe to do because I do like how they feel) or I need to figure out how to increase the appeal of humans as a player race. That’s something I’m struggling with slightly, but it may simply be a matter of increasing the XP penalties of being non-human so that humans advance significantly faster or coming up with some extra penalties that the non-humans suffer from.

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Lost Imperium VI – The Immaterium

One of the interesting things about positing the Lost Imperium in another galaxy is thinking about what “the Warp” would be like. Arguably there would be no, or at least very different, Ruinous Powers – and there is certainly no Maelstrom or Eye of Terror – and might have more in common with the Formless Wastes than the Realms of the four Chaos Gods.

In general I think that making the Immaterium of the Lost Imperium’s galaxy an essentially calmer environment than that Milky Way would be interesting. We are already positing a setting far more grounded in the Imperial Truth than the Imperial Creed which also suggests a less chaotic universe less dominated by the powers of Chaos. This may be because the native races have never spawned quite the level of psychic energy to birth Chaos Powers the same way as in the Milky Way, or perhaps they have successfully combatted them – that’s almost too much to speculate at the moment without figuring out what the dominant races are…

So let’s do that!

We’ve already suggested that this galaxy was seeded by proto-Eldar (which we’ll call Eldar) by the Old Ones. Personally I’m not a fan of the Orks in WH40K but perhaps there is an analog of them as well – but if we agree to that I am going to make them far, far less “Ork-y”. I’m more tempted to simply say that there is something more like the Tyranids or the Kroot that act as the Old One “spore race.”

More so than that, if we are positing a new galaxy, I’m even more tempted to simply invent a new major power that is inspired by both the Necrons of WH40K and the universe of Stargate: Atlantis – the Raith. Perhaps the reason the Immaterium is so calm is a combination of a non-corrupt, non-dying Eldar race that has managed to successfully not “irritate” the Immaterium plus a soulless race that has been harvesting the souled races for “food” in periodic harvesting runs and also managed to keep the “psychic noise” down and thus prevented the same sort of rise of incredibly strong or dominant Chaos Powers. Alternately what we could posit is Malal as the “dominant” Chaos Power over a pantheon of lesser Daemon Princes and various creatures of the Immaterium – again, another discussion.

But in any case, all of this also starts to point the way as to why there is not any need for the Astronomican or why it exists in a significantly different format. If we are trying for an analog of the Imperium then we should have some sort of Astronomican but it can’t be the same thing (simply being impossible to duplicate technologically). I also don’t want to go so far as saying that there is an Imperial Webway – which is a reasonable extrapolation of the Great Crusade era – because we haven’t decided if there is a Webway used in this galaxy by the Eldar (though it would be hard to imagine an Eldar race without it).

But, in any case, this leaves lots of room to develop and expand upon the overall setting.

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Lost Imperium V – Inspiration

I had mentioned that watching the movie Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters had been inspiration for the setting but it is worth noting that there are a series of other sources that provide equally fertile ground to sow for content beyond the general corpus of the existing WH40K canon and quasi-canon. Just casting my mind out, another source of ideas might be the Riddick movies – there is a definite mix of science and mysticism there that might be fun.

I’ve always found Frank Herbert’s Dune series to be a great inspiration. It is worth noting that the 40K setting has also drawn on this source for at least some ideas – the Navigators being a prime example. And if there was a more directed slant that I could take it would be in this direction I suppose – not just the Frank Herbert books but the other canon written by his son and others. If nothing else because of how it handles a certain anti-technology attitude (particularly towards computers and cybernetics) that is replicated somewhat in the canon WH40K setting.

While I’m not sure exactly what I would take from the setting, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover setting is explicitly a “lost colony” setting that mixes sci-fi and fantasy tropes in a very similar manner to WH40k. The same could be said for Andre Norton’s Witch World series, and I have to suspect that her “Free Traders” provided at least a bit inspiration for the “Rogue Traders” of WH40K. I could also poke at E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s Lensmen for some ideas as well.

I’m kind of struck that these are all pretty “classic” speculative fiction writers.

More recently in genre I’d be looking at Steampunk for some ideas – again in how things like cybernetics would be handled, as well as fashion and attitude. Plus, something which is trying to look at things at the “height of Empire” rather than the decadence of a fallen or dying one. That said, I was watching Spartacus today (the TV show) and could certainly see a place for the bloodsports as an illustration of the sort of ruthless brutality that even the Lost Imperium could display. While not Steampunk in the slightest, Susan R. Matthews scifi Judiciary novels also provide a good example of the sort of ruthless legal code that might be evident.

 

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Lost Imperium IV – Sensei

So, I played WH40K way back in the day and one of the things that I loved and at this point is of only questionable canonicity is the Sensei – the sons of the Emperor.

It was the somewhat reasonable idea that for the essentially immortal Emperor ( the “New Man” or alternately Adam Kadmon if you prefer) has sired children over the ages who are also personifications of order and themselves immortal – and who also play a potential part in the saving of humanity from the Ruinous Powers.

Now, I think that it is somewhat hard to believe that the Emperor is not (or was not) aware of these individuals. I am also not sold on the idea that they are all male, that makes no sense to me, but well get there in a bit. But I can certainly buy the idea that they are essentially unknown in the current climate of the canon Imperium and that the Emperor would want to keep their existence under wraps for some arcane reason – he certainly played the long game.

So what if the stand-in for the Emperor in the Lost Imperium is one of his children? This could also be a reason to keep the Lost Imperium a more healthy and dynamic setting. No Horus Heresy means no lich-Emperor, Sensei are also immortal so this Sensei could have ruled this setting for the entire time and thus keeping the sense of the “eternal Emperor” that is important to the setting.

So that is settled, one key point for this setting is that the individual ruling it is a legitimate inheritor of the mantle (if not the title) of the Emperor – one of his children, the Sensei. What could be interesting is if we made this person female rather than male. One of the things that has always bothered me about the entire Warhammer series of games (Fantasy and 40K) is how male-centric they are – though with a genesis in 80’s era Thatcher-dominated England this is somewhat unsurprising I suppose.

But the Lost Imperium actually allows for a different take on the tropes and elements of the setting and one with hopefully a bit more balance regarding gender, etc. How exactly to make this work, along with the preserving the Imperial Cult is going to be an interesting nut to crack, but it should be fun to logic it out.

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Lost Imperium III – Enuncia

Enuncia, from the Dan Abnett works, is a “language of magic” and is (broadly) a trope of the entire speculative fiction genre. In the books there is a suggestion that it is Chaos-related but I would argue that it would (by virtue of how language and cognition actually works) that is actually the opposite – a thing of Order but one as pervertable as a bolter or a cogitator.

As such I also think it would be a rather interesting extra piece of the puzzle for the Lost Imperium and how it works. The use of Enuncia, a language that be studied and mastered, fits almost better into the Imperial Truth than psykers fit into the Imperial Creed. So perhaps we could posit that while psykers still exist they are those that operate under the auspices of the witchcraft and sorcery of the Ruinous Powers while the Lost Imperium itself use Enuncia as a method of harnessing the “operating code of the universe” for the benefit of Mankind.

It is probably worth noting that the “Lost Imperium” would be considered hopeless heretics by the Imperium of Man in the Milky Way…

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Lost Imperium II

One of the big questions to figure out if this is a classic “alternate timeline” where the Horus Hersey never happened or if it is happening concurrently with the existing WH40K someplace else – or if it somehow takes place within the canon WH40K universe but in a different time. This is actually possible because the Immaterium does do funny things with time and if we are postulating some of lost colony this is a somewhat viable idea.

Location in place is a bit more problematic for a couple of reasons. As written the setting of WH40K basically covers the entirety of the Milky Way Galaxy. So the idea that there is another large, “uncontaminated” human empire is somewhat of a no-go – so that leaves open the idea of placing the “Lost Imperium” in another galaxy and there is an interesting question as to if the Immaterium would actually exist in another galaxy given that it is the Sea of Souls.

Plus, we want to have a universe with as many of the familiar tropes as possible. I want a universe with some version of Eldar for example – though I don’t exactly care about the Tau or the Orks or some of the other races unless there was a really good reason. but if we place this in another galaxy we also have to come up with an explanation of why and how they are there also.

But, it could argued that at some point during the War in Heaven with the C’tan the Old Ones created a “back door” or some sort of escape route to another galaxy. This is also somewhat reasonable, and could explain why there are some very similar races. Also, the existence of the Tyranids proves that there is extra-galactic life out there – and they don’t seem to be soulless in the same manner as Necrons and this suggestive of an Immaterium elsewhere.

But that seems like a decent idea. Somehow, during the Great Crusade some large group of humans tripped over a Old One escape hatch left over from the War in Heaven and ended up in another galaxy – and perhaps one that was also seeded to some degree by the Old Ones with some of the proto-Eldar and perhaps other races that they created. The timeline is concurrent with the canon setting, but in some other galaxy far removed from the Terra.

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Lost Imperium I

In examining the idea of creating a different vision of the Imperium of WH40K, the interesting thing is that most of the institutions of the Imperium have the genesis at it’s beginning and either remain relatively unchanged or were twisted by events of the Horus Heresy and the long period of survival since.

The Council of Terra evolved from the War Council of Great Crusade and eventually evolved further into Senatorum Imperialis (the High Lords of Terra). The Adeptus Astronomica, the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, the Adeptus Administratum, the Officio Assassinorum, the Warrants of Trade of the Rogue Traders and the Navis Nobilite all certainly date back to this time. The Imperial Army devolved into the Imperial Navy and the Imperial Guard, while the Thunder Warriors of the Wars of Unification were supplanted by the Grey Legions which then became the Adeptus Astartes Legions led by the Primarchs and were  then divided into the Space Marine Chapters post-Rebellion.

The Adeptus Mechanicus certainly existed at this point but it is arguably going to have a somewhat different version of the Cult Mechanicus given the lack of devolution and the influence of the Imperial Creed upon the tenants of the Sixteen Universal Laws and the worship of the Omnimessiah.

The Imperial Truth and the role of the Iterators was jettisoned for the Imperial Creed and Cult along with the rise of the Adeptus Ministorum. It is likely that some form of the Inquisition existed in this time period as well – certainly things like the Black Ships did, so some sort of mechanism similar to at least the Inquisition had to have existed – plus something which would have been an intelligence network (though these likely have their genesis in the immediate lead-up to the Rebellion). Things which most certainly didn’t exist are the Adeptus Ministorum as well as (somewhat obviously) the Adeptus Sororitas. Finally, the role of the Legio Custodes was significantly different in that era.

There are also a few things that would have to be resolved – is this an alternate timeline? Or is it, and this is the idea which I have, is there just a transplanted set of elements into some other part of the galaxy that have survived and prospered without the baggage of the Horus Heresy?

If that is the case there are a series of questions or issues that would need to be resolved or addressed to maintain the general “sense of place”.

  • The Astronominicon
  • Space Marines
  • The Imperial Cult
  • The Ruinous Powers
  • The Xenos
  • The Ritual of Soul-Binding

Interestingly, there are a number of elements that would perhaps help resolve some of these issues. There is original plan for the Golden Throne and the Eldar Webway, the two lost Space Marine Legions from the First Founding, the Expeditionary Fleets of the Great Crusade, the Sensei, the Old Ones and the truth behind the Necrons and the C’tan, plus the existence of things like the Jericho Maw Warp Gate that make such an alternate setting possible, not to mention the existence of the Jokaero. Even the existence of not just the Eldar Craft Worlds, but the Exodites and the Dark Eldar (and the Harlequins) point towards the possibility of another version of the Eldar surviving the Fall.

All of this makes for a relatively intriguing potential collection of elements and mysteries for the proto-setting.

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Long time no see…

Yeah, life did get pretty crazy there for a bit. I don’t think it has really gotten any less crazy, but at this point I’m starting to acclimate…

The AD&D game is on hold, after the switch to the new setting we had a great time starting the Slaver series, pretty much trouncing through A1. But due to the chaos I was basically burned out and when my spouse was ready to take over running a “Cybertraveller” (Cyberpunk 2020 and Traveller mashup) game we had an extra bit of chaos thrown into the works and we had to cancel that plus pretty much all formal group gaming.

For the last few weeks my son and I have been playing in our shared Dark Heresy game. Itself a bit of mashup because it has been combined with the rest of the FFE WH40K games. It is just my son and myself because my spouse and our friends really don’t have much of a desire to play in it’s the dark future setting.

This Friday past we (my son and I) went to see Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and I was struck by how much the vaguely steampunk setting would work in a low-tech Dark Heresy setting. The witches in the film are excellent examples of Chaos-taint, and the steampunk-esque weapons certainly had a WH40K feel to them.

And that had me thinking.

Why couldn’t the setting of 41st millennium be re-imagined? It doesn’t have to actually be so unrelentingly god-awful and dark, that’s a function of how the Imperium works – and there are certainly plenty of examples of how there is definite scalability to that even in the official universe. So I’ve starting think about how everything could stay the same but at the same time be massively different…

I have a couple of very interesting ideas, and much of it involves delving into the apocrypha of the WH40K setting – not hard because I was playing 40K back in the days of the original Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader rules. So I’m going to be using this space to talk about this alternative setting, which has it’s start in bright hope of the Great Crusade, before the dark days of the Horus Heresy and the slow descent of the Imperium into madness and chaos…

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