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.Warhammer 40,000, known informally as "Warhammer 40K" or just plain "40K", is a miniatures-based tabletop strategy game by Games Workshop. Drawing heavily on their previous Warhammer Fantasy game, it began as "Warhammer In Space", but has over time grown distinct from (and much more popular than) its counterpart. It is currently in its seventh edition.What makes 40K unique in the gaming genre is its extreme darkness. Set thirty-eight thousand years in the future, the game's basic setting, insofar as it can be summed up, is that of a galaxy twisted into a horrifying hell where an eternal, impossibly vast conflict occurs between several absurdly powerful genocidal, xenocidal, and (in at least one case) omnicidal factions, with every single weapon, ideology, and creative piece of nastiness imaginable turned Up to Eleven...and even it has a Hell.
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More about the setting
The central faction, the Imperium of Man, once held immeasurable glory, but is now a paranoid, fascist theocracy whose messiah has been locked up on life support, catatonic yet psychically conscious, for the past ten millennia, laid low by his most beloved son. An incomprehensibly vast Church Militant commits horrible atrocities in his name (but against his philosophy) on an almost-daily basis. Millions of capricious, fanatical, genetically engineered Knight Templar Super Soldiers and equally fanatical, pyromaniacal battle nuns serve as the Imperium's special forces, while its trillions-strong regular army takes disregard for human life to new and interesting extremes. A futuristic Inquisition ruthlessly hunts down anyone with even the slightest taint of the heretic, the mutant, or the alien, going as far as even destroying entire planets, just to be sure. Science and technology have scarcely progressed for ten thousand years, and are generally treated with fear, ignorance and magical superstition courtesy of the ruthless secrecy of a deranged machine cult that considers innovation to be blasphemy. The Warp, the source of the Faster-Than-Light Travel the Imperium must rely on, carries with it a good chance of being ripped apart by daemons in more ways than one, and the Astronomican, the navigation aid used to negotiate Warpspace, is powered by the God Emperor's soul and has the souls of one thousand psychic humans sacrificed to it every day, dying by inches to feed the machine.The problem is, as bad as the Imperium is, it's equaled in evil by many other factions; dying quickly when facing them is about the best fate you can hope for. The ancient and mysterious manipulator race, hovering near extinction, contrives wars that see billions dead so that small villages of their own may survive, while their depraved cousins must spend their lives perpetuating mass slaughter and Cold-Blooded Torture upon other species to stave off their own eternal punishment. Vast Bug Swarms are trying to eat every organic thing in the galaxy as part of their natural life cycles. An entire civilization of incredibly advanced, undying, living metal conquerors are awakening after millions of years of slumber, ready to reclaim a galaxy they see as rightfully theirs. A genetically-engineered warrior species infests every corner of the galaxy and is cheerfully trying to kill everything else (including each other, if nothing better presents itself) because it's literally hard-wired into their genetic code to do so...and because it's fun. The closest thing to the "good guys" you can find in this setting is a tiny alien empire sandwiched between all the other factions, and they may or may not have a thing for forcing new subjects into their empire through orbital bombardment, concentration camps, and possible mind control by a few benevolent elites...but at least they'll offer you second-class admittance into their club before absorbing you through mechanized brute force. All the factions have a common foe in the forces of Chaos, which infests the Warp, exists to corrupt all it touches, and is best known for being the root cause of a lot of the 40K setting's darkness, as well as for two light-years-wide holes in reality through which countless daemons and corrupted daemon-powered super-soldiers periodically attempt to bring the universe to further ruin.
How the game is played
The game is played on a table top or other flat surface with added terrain, obstacles, and other objects; the standard play area is 6' x 4'. The essential tools for gameplay, aside from the miniatures, are: the main rulebook; codexes for the players' armies which detail the individual models' stats and army-specific rules; a tape measure, as everything is measured in inches; plastic templates for blast and flame weapons; and lots of six-sided dice, including a special "scatter die" used for specific weapons and troop movements. GW sells all of these separately, and (at least through the 6th edition rules) also provided starter kits containing the templates, scatter die and a few D6s, enough miniatures to field two small armies, and a rules-only version of the rulebook. The 7th edition rulebook is now a 3-volume set of books, with one book dedicated to the rules, the background, and the hobby itself respectively. How this will influence future starter kits remains to be seen.The models are divided into six distinct categories: HQnote , Elitesnote , Troopsnote , Dedicated Transportsnote , Fast Attacknote , and Heavy Supportnote . In each category, the models available have a base point value relative to their worth in gameplay, which covers the # of models and their basic weapons and armor. The rules give the player specific options to change the weapons, armor, and other bonuses depending on the category and unit in question, and to add models to certain units, with a corresponding increase in the overall point cost for that model or unit for each change.Players assemble their armies to meet an agreed-upon number of points per army prior to play, with the upper limits usually determined by the type of game being played. For instance, normal games are typically in the 1000-2000 point range, but a beginner could easily play a 500 point game, and Apocalypse games (featuring huge numbers of units per army and faction-relevant Humongous Mecha) can have point values in the tens to hundreds of thousands or more. In older editions, a Force Organization Chart mandated how many units in each category could be fielded in an army. The 7th Edition rules keep the FOC and give bonuses to players who use it, but also allow players to either build their army with any structure they want or to build specific army lists.Before the game begins, dice are rolled to determine the "Mission" for the gamenote , how the battlefield will be divided between the armiesnote , various challenges and model abilitiesnote that influence gameplay, and who gets to deploy their army first. There are twelve Missions in all, six "Eternal War" Missions from the standard rules and six "Maelstrom of War" missions introduced in 7th edition. These have a general theme like the Eternal War missions but also use Tactical Objective cards which are drawn at the start of each player's turn and give specific tasks that the player can attempt to accomplish. The first player to deploy gets to start the first turn, with the second player having a chance to roll to go first, or "steal the initiative".During each turn, each player gets a movement phase (advancing or retreating models as needed), a psychic phase (where such models attempt to generate and use psychic powers) a shooting phase (where all such weapons can fire on targets in range), and an assault phase (close-quarters combat). In the movement phase, different models/units have specific rules regarding how far they can move and how movement affects their ability to use weapons in the subsequent phases. The moving player can also elect to give up his shooting phase for a model or unit to move it further. During the psychic phase, the player rolls to determine how many chances he has to use psychic powersnote and spends one chance per die rolled (up to the full # of chances) to cast each power, with failed rolls possibly causing "Perils of the Warp" and/or the defending player being able to negate successful rolls factored in. During the shooting and assault phases, dice are rolled by the attacking player for each model/unit attacking to determine the total number of hits and then for the number of hits that actually cause damage or wounds. If possible, the defending player can then roll for various types of saves to attempt to negate damage or wounds, and can also counterattack. Morale and leadership checks, special abilities and features unique to each race/faction, weapon-specific rules, effects caused by certain kids of terrain, and other such actions also influence the progress of each phase. Once the first player's assault phase is complete, the second player goes through the same sequence of phases, with the first player reacting accordingly. A turn is complete at the end of the second player's assault phase; the process then starts over again with the next turn.Players acquire victory points as they eliminate sections of the opponents' army from the game, when Mission-specific criteria are achieved, and (as of 7th edition) when Tactical Objectives are achieved during a turn. All Missions are won by majority of victory points, but draws are possible. It's also possible to win by completely eliminating the opponent's army, or eliminating enough of it to make it impossible for the opponent to achieve specific Mission conditions. Games typically last for 4 to 6 turns, although depending on circumstances, die rolls can determine whether or not turns 6 and 7 happen.
Apart from the game itself and its rulebooks, faction-specific, setting-specific, and campaign sourcebooks, 40K has spawned a range of spinoff games and publications. Over sixty novels and short story anthologies are published by the Black Library, a subsidiary of Games Workshop, who also published the now out-of-print comic book Warhammer Monthly and short story magazine Inferno. Boom! Studios now publish comics set in the 40K universe, in the form of various mini-series, rather than an ongoing title. There is even a full-length fan film, Damnatus, which was approved, made, banned over conflicts between British and German IP laws, then leaked online. Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium is currently in development. An official CGI movie, Ultramarines, was released in 2010, following up on a number of live-action shorts shown at various Games Day events in the 90s.In the meantime, you can track down an old Games Workshop VHS release film called Inquisitor, or even watch Event Horizon (which has long been accepted as an unofficial prequel, since the creators seem to have accidentally matched the franchise's premise and style with remarkable exactitude, though not the time period). There is also another fan film being produced called The Lord Inquisitor, which will be fully CGI. Unlike the incident with Damnatus, Games Workshop is perfectly fine with the existence of the movie and will not be taking legal action against its production.As you may have guessed from the incredible size and attention to detail on this page, 40k has a huge, diverse, and fanatical following, despite the niche status of the hobby. The franchise has a lot of appeal even to people who don't play the wargame itself (or used to play it and only keep in touch with the lore), and who only follow the spinoffs (many of which are perfectly good in their own right). You don't have to spend all your money to experience the inimitable insanity that is Warhammer 40,000.You can start with these pages or better yet, watch this. Additionally, the following websites can provide you with a lot of helpful information about many different aspects of the game:
A more in-depth look at the tropes specifically embodied by the various major factions can be found here.Spin-offs and games of Warhammer 40000 that have received indexes of their own:
Other Miniatures Games
Tabletop Role-Playing Games
These pages are for tropes related to the literary fiction (novels, short stories etc.) and only this. Please resist the urge to shoehorn tropes about the Chapters the novels are following onto these pages. Tropes which are exemplified by the Chapter in Codices, rulebook fluff and the like go on the relevant Characters pages. Generally speaking, the subject of the story is the name of the entry, and each specific story, novel or audio drama should be entered into that subject's trope entry.
Spin-offs and games that do not have their own pages
The game as a whole provides examples of: