I had a thought, as I was working on the podcast with Shane. Is there a place where peace happens in Warhammer 40K? I mean it is a big galaxy. And mankind, along with the other races, surely cannot have mapped or found them all. Suppose out in the Warhammer Milky Way Galaxy, there are several million undiscovered planets that harbor life. Ones in various stages of development. In the shows and movies, there’s lots of tropes where you happen on pre-historic, bronze or iron age societies. Or you could have advanced spacefaring civilizations that for whatever reasons, keep to themselves. And rarer still, you’d probably get societies on a par with our own, technologically speaking. Civilizations still in the Atomic Age; just on the verge of being Type 1 on the Kardashev scale. And even as far as we’re concerned, if you’re wondering why a sentient race hasn’t found us yet, we’re less than a needle in the proverbial haystack. Our radio band transmissions have only gone about 120 light years from the position Sol was in back in 1900. Putting that in contrast, the Milky way is about 105,700 light years across with two-hundred and fifty BILLION stars that comprise it. And that’s not taking into account all the natural phenomenon that would get in the way of our being detected by any race interested in finding us. (Have I mentioned my middle name is Sagan?)
The point is, even with the galaxy being as divided as it is and full of war and grimdark… One would think that there were planets out there that through no fault of their own, have been entirely missed by…. well, everyone. Who’s got time for first contact and exploration when you’ve got daemons or Necron or greenskins or great Terran cathedral fleets breathing down your neck? (or equivalent biology?)
The odds are quite likely there’d BE untouched civilizations out there. And the further out from Terra or the Great Rift you get, the better your chances are of a place being un-afflicted with the forever war.
So okay, I say to myself. There’d have to be some pretty interesting circumstances to generate a place like this one. First… how do you get to the back of beyond without running afoul of all manner of beasties, problems and hostile races? Well… wormholes, or the tried and true MacGuffin of all space opera… A Space Anomaly. Hell, in the Star Trek podcast I’m part of, Deep Space 3 is on the verge of a great anomalous nebula called the Pinchot Expanse. Commonly referred to as the Milky Way’s ‘Bermuda Triangle‘. Which is all kinds of great for doing weird and fascinating plot, from a writer’s point of view.
So you’ve got this anomaly in deep space. If people happen to run afoul of it, they get flung out to the end of the Outer Eastern Arm, Milky Way, Local Group, Virgo Supercluster. About as far as you get from Terra, period. I’ve got a place in mind. actually. If I were giving you directions, I’d say go WAY out on the eastern rim in the Exodite worlds til you get to Coralax, the homeworld of the Space Marines chapter, the Knights of the Raven. Then set course direct galactic east from the Mandragora Sector on an outward course til you’ve traveled about the distance you’d go if you were headed to Firestorm, homeworld of the Aurora Chapter. So far out that you see nothing but cosmic dust and intergalactic space unless you turn back and look at the rest of the Milky Way. There’s probably stars out there along with the occasional stellar nursery, but unless you knew where to look, they’d be entirely obscured. And maybe you’d find a white dwarf star, already done with all the major phases of its cycle. One that captured a rogue planet or two and shredded them with tidal forces as it traveled outward from galactic center.
But getting out there that way would be the dumb way to go. And no one would go out there deliberately. If you’re here, you probably got flung here by some anomaly or other back in the Galaxy proper. (“The weather started getting rough. The tiny ship was tossed!“) And the only thing you’d do normally is try to find a way BACK to regular galactic space. But what if you couldn’t? The warp’s a dangerous place. And if it flung you this far out, I’d say it probably treated your ship rough enough to strand you there. So unless you’re some great honking armored capital ship of the line, here you’re probably staying.
So… now we have a location. And a way that people got out here. With anomalies all over the Milky Way nowadays, you’d get all types of sentients with the ill luck to get thrown to the back of beyond. Given that there’d be plenty of materials for it, maybe there’s an ancient Dyson sphere or ring around the Dwarf. One whose builders are long gone. (The anomaly’s been throwin’ people out here a while it’d seem.) Plenty of space for everyone. Plenty of solar energy to harness for survival. Lots of dust, minerals and organic materials in local space to make resources from. There’d probably even be water from the place’s interactions with the odd spaceberg or comet over the eons. And out here… survival is more the order of the day than making sure one another are slain in the name of people so far away, they scarcely matter.
It’d be a problem if the people that ended up there were warriors or dedicated marines of any sort. People who live on the order of thousands of years in single-minded dedication to battle. So matters would have to be such that warrior types don’t make it out here all that much. Maybe the anomalies are all on civilian navigational routes. Trade and shipping routes and the like. (“Marshall, Will & Holly… on a routine expedition…“) So the people that ended up out here on… well, it’s gotta be named something. Let’s call it the Yendapeer System. (Ya end up here. Get it?) Anyway. The people that end up in the Yendapeer system would by and large be civilians and traders. People in freighters who’d likely have at least some of the resources necessary for survival. And more importantly, people who wouldn’t immediately feel the need to try and annihilate anyone else they found there. The odds are you’d get the occasional warrior type who was aboard for whatever reason. But they’re going to be the exception, not the rule.
So… you’ve got all the space you need, a thing that irregularly populates the place. A reason they’re not all at war with one another when you get there. And it’s inconvenient enough to get to that no one goes there deliberately. Like to quell or exterminate this blasphemous conclave of races who are living… more or less peacefully with one another communally. Enjoying what they can of the society they can make. I mean it’s certainly still a dangerous place. Full of intrigues and frontier dangers. No-one is coming to help. There is no backup or reinforcement. Anyone out here is on their own unless they take it upon themselves to coexist with anyone else who’d the ill-fortune to end up there.
If you call that ill-fortune.
I figure the culture here would be one that probably lives on salvage. There’d be lots of space hulks in a kind of Sargasso sea around the ring. It’d be in the interest of the populace to salvage the ships they could for local travel and inter-system maintenance. Salvaging crews would be just as important. New minds and ideas would always be necessary if the settlement were to survive. If they weren’t killed getting here, your average ring folk are going to be hard workers, probably engineers to some degree who have to know how to do maintenance on a civilian ship. So some degree of scientists and engineers are going to exist. And all of us know that the Orruks know how to slap anything together and make it work. Any of the Tau out here are going to work toward the greater good. Humans would probably be the ones with the big crazy ideas to make it all work as a society. Any Aeldari that make it out here may be something of an organizing principle, working from the vantage point of long-lived wisdom.
You might get the odd encroaching chaos ship coming down. Maybe the occasional Necron. And without the armies of the inner galaxy, the people would have to come together to deal with mutual threats like that, tightening interdependence and alliances. Maybe you’d get the odd marine or inquisitor. And you’d have to give the more dogmatic ones like that ‘The Explanation.’
“So here’s how it is, huge boi. Unless you got a ship that can get you back to the galaxy and all, you’re stuck here with all of us. And I know your first instinct is to kill anything that moves that isn’t human. That’s got two possible outcomes. You fail at that and all of us, including the humans, end you. Or you succeed in that and end everyone on the ring. And we know you can probably do that. It might take centuries to find every person on a ringworld and kill em, but I’m sure you could. And then you would be alone. Stranded beyond known space all by yourself. Which might be worse still than all of us killing you. That’s your choice if you want to use that bolter there.
“If you don’t… things get a bit more interesting, savvy? You can choose to live with us instead of die with us. There’s all kinds of things a fella like you could help do out here. Lots to protect the rest of us from. Lots to explore. We don’t know who built this place. Or how they left. If they left. We ain’t found any, so we don’t know. There could be a way back, sure. But most of us ain’t interested in that. All that’s back in the galaxy is blood and killing. We’ve found something that ain’t that. Or mebbe it found us. But we got something here on Pax Unio. Join us or don’t. We only got a problem with you if you make yourself one. Your call.“
In my head… the scenario’s not all that infeasible. Hell, they may be so far out, that the expansion of the Rift in more recent centuries might not really have that much in the way of psychic turbulence all the way out here in Yendapeer. But the Psychic Awakening is an evolving situation at the moment, so we can’t really say, can we?
It’d seem to me to be an opportunity for a whole game or campaign setting within Warhammer. (Copyright: Edward WinterRose 2019. All rights reserved.) Or at least it’d be something to do in a Rogue Trader game. The place you end up is your classic adventure setting. You’ve essentially got the endless resources and space of a ringworld to explore. You’ve got reasonably friendly neighbors. Frontier mysteries and challenges. Alien flora and fauna. Space enough that there’d likely be variance in society. So every place you went would be a taste of something new or strange. The potential for science fiction and fantasy trope exploitation would be pretty high.
It doesn’t even have to be as hope-punk as all that, if the idea of a more peaceful Warhammer setting bothers ya. The castaways out there could be fractured and uncivilized. Un-trusting of one another. Different peoples who’ve just escaped 40 millennia of war aren’t going to be all hand-hold-y as that right away. A society like that would have to evolve over thousands of years. Maybe your characters arrive and can be great unifiers. Or if they want, they could be conquerers. It all depends on how you’d want to play a game like that. But I know one thing it might not be.
40 millennia of war without hope or change? That might be boring. The idea of being an exception to that and forging out on a different path? Now you’ve got my attention.
-Edward WinterRose is a 48th level gaming geek that has always prided himself more on coming up with settings and characters and playing with them than running games. And he’s a big softie. You can tell can’t ya? Oh yeah… speaking of castaways… A THREE HOUR TOUR.