The Noob Looks Into the Psychic Awakening.
So… When it comes to a lot of RPG’s, I’m not the one up front beating the hell out of something with a sword or mace. I’m not the fella with a chainsword and bolter at point blank range. My own style of combat is a LOT more distant. I never met a sniper character class I didn’t like. And the only thing as good as a sniper for this kid is someone with psychic powers. That was my second play-through in the Mass Effect games. Someone that could point at an enemy and shout, “KILL ONE ANOTHER FOR MY AMUSEMENT.” in their heads loud enough that they’d do it. (I will also accept a hacker type who can do that to robot / mechanical enemies.)
And whether that power comes from genetic manipulation or mutation in a sci-fi setting, or inborn sorcerous or psychic talent in a fantasy setting, I’m down with it. If I can’t snipe an enemy or turn their own brain against them… my interest doesn’t so much pique. (Well, I tell a lie… give me a pistoleer/gunslinger class and I’m a happy boi!) And if your enemy is closing up and getting in my DPS-based character’s face, then something has already gone drastically wrong. The best ops (or Shadowruns) are the ones where you never saw me. But the evidence of my passing is quite clear. (Got me a sniper rifle 2.0 in The Outer Worlds recently. And with all the science guns and shrink rays and funny weapons… even a mind control gun… I never found better than that Sniper 2.)
So when I saw that there was an ongoing event happening in the 40K game setting called Psychic Awakening, consider me piqued. Now… that said, over the last three months, I’m pretty sure I’ve learned a thing or two about the campaign setting. At least as far as Humans go. And what I’ve learned is that their tolerance of psychic gifts… is not what you ‘d call tolerant. I’d wager 8 or 9 times out of 10, that the standard response to confirmation of a psychic gift is assumed corruption by Chaos and Dark Gods. And the appropriate response is levied in lead.
Now of course there’s always going to be exceptions to the rule. Navigators of the mighty battlecruisers of the imperium rely on psykers to navigate their crews safely through the warp without the usual resulting insanity that requires putting them down. There’s whole chapters of the Adeptes Astartes that are psychically gifted. And they monitor their own stringently for any sign of the corruption of chaos or dark influences. The imperium would seem to be going with the idea that psykers have their uses, but on the whole, they’re too great a risk to tolerate en masse.
But with Emperor Pyrrhus (STILL CALLING HIM THAT.) in the sad condition he’s in, and obscenities and darkness oozing from the Warp like infection into the rest of our galaxy, more may be needed that bullets and bravery. Mankind’s survival is at risk. And as with all things in nature, they must evolve or die. And with the warp yawning ever wider… my impression is that people with psychic talent, or latent talent may be manifesting more and more often than ever before. And the risk of their corruption by way of that talent is greater than it’s ever been.
That’s my impression of the situation. Let’s see how much that bears out.
My research comes up with the idea that the Psychic Awakening is a narrative that’s advancing the plot of 40k in some meaningful way instead of just going “Here is a Galaxy split by Chaos and war for tens of thousands of years. Grab a bolter and hop in.” And that this whole slew of new codexes with a few factions in them and new rules for them may herald a whole new edition of Warhammer itself. And that the Psychic Awakening series may be something of a precursor to a more psyker-inclusive (or at least more common) 40K setting.
So far, it would seem that the event is going to manifest itself through all sorts of different factions. The Phoenix Rising event showed us how the power pouring out of the great rift has affected the Aeldari. (SPACE ELVES!) Being psyker-sensitives as a race, the whole galactic elder-god evil pouring out of the Warp has to be something with long term effects on them as a race. In this case, Blood of the Phoenix is a box set that shows an indicative civil-conflict as a result of the increased psyker-activity. And we get to see how it affects specific elements of Aeldari’s faction, specifically, the Asuryani, the Drukhari, the Harlequins, and the Ynnari. (For real, your noobness here needs to look into the Aeldari with a whole post. Maybe when a new release makes it necessary.)
And now we’ve got recent releases like Faith and Fury and Blood of Baal, which seems a bit more human-oriented, which honestly is of more interest to your noobness for the moment. (At least til February… See below…) The folks at GW seem to be staggering these newer Psychic Awakening books to one a month. And of course during Warhammer Day, GW announced the Ritual of the Damned chapter, which looks like probably going to be focused heavily on The Grey Knights, the Dark Angels and the Chaos Marine Chapter, The Thousand Sons.
They seem to be going with a formula of a book release along with a new mini of some newly inducted character (Lazurus) or established personage (Mephiston) as having crossed the Rubicon Primaris, preceded by short fiction pieces on the Warhammer Community page to generate buzz. (All very lucasfilm-ian in practice. Keeping a low but steady heat on the burner as it were.) Each short seems to speak to a similar theme. The idea that the ever-present seepage of Chaos into reality is agitating humanity en-masse, erupting into civil conflicts of faith and heresy against the emperor and the imperium. Refugees from the advance of the Rift falling on one another in superstitiously driven lunacy. Ministerium worlds falling while corrupted dogma is broadcast at them over the airwaves. And it all seems to be implied to be the result of increased psychic malady. I’m honestly considering reading one of the latest ones for the upcoming final episode of the podcast. (Unless things change in this regard…)
Then about February, it looks like we’re going to be getting some insight into how all this affects the Tau with “The Greater Good.” Though I hear it theorized that it may also have to do with The Death Guard on the Chaos side, since they go up against Tau a lot. I’d have thought it would be the Ultramarines on the Imperial side instead of Chaos, since Ultramar is right next door to the Tau Empire. Maybe the poor tau are getting it on two fronts. Who can say? And after that, there’s still ANOTHER announced volume called “Saga of the Beast.” That’s generalized enough that your guess is as good as mine. Though this may be Orks. It may also be Space
Werewolves Wolves too. Apparently this has been leaked? But I got no reference for that.
So on the whole so far… it would seem the awakening is pretty much expanded rules sets for the less traditionally combat oriented classes and units in the 40K universe. That, and it’s still early days yet. We’re only seeing how this plot advance a long time in coming is affecting humans and Aeldari. (Cos’ one cannot copyright the word ELF can one, GW?) How this affects the great crush of humanity beyond the chapters of imperial and chaos marines remains to be seen. And of course, the Aeldari have already known their doom for a long time now. Is this one more step in that direction, or something that shows their fate isn’t already written?
I’m interested in seeing where it goes. It appeals to my sorcerer-psi-DPS playing sensibilities, and I’ll have to ask some of my Warhammer playing pals what they think of the whole thing. We’ll see.