Thursday, 14 July 2011

How Can You Have Space Marines in Warhammer Fantasy?

 Well the truthful answer to the question above is, when you're running your own Warhammer Fantasy campaign you can do whatever you damn well want.

My desire to pit Space Marines against Warhammer Fantasy armies came first, but I did give quite a lot of thought to how this could make sense over the years while I was fantasising getting round to it.

It basically comes down to a series of justifications, exploring the "fact" that the Warhammer World definitely sits in the same universe as Warhammer 40,000. Here's a list in no particular order of what we know to prove this and some other tidbits thrown in to substantiate it...
  • The Chaos Gods are the same characters in both games.
  • There are Daemonic Special Characters that appear in both games. They are quite literally the same "people."
  • The Old Ones who built the Lizardmen culture, created Elves and man and brought the Orcs down as spores from space are the same ones who battled the Necrons in 40k and created the races there.
  • The Realm of Chaos and the Warp are the same place.
  • The polar gate the Old Ones created that collapsed,allowing Chaos to enter the Warhammer World, obviously led to the webway which they created in 40k, the means by which Dark Eldar and Harlequins travel the galaxy. 
  •  Maybe Sigmar was one of the lost Space Marine Primarchs.
  • The cataclysm that destroyed the Old One's portal may have been related to the Eye of Terror opening up and the fall of the Eldar or it could have been related to their war with the Necrons and C'tan. 

So I'm satisfied that the Warhammer World is definitely just a planet, floating somewhere in the same universe as Warhammer 40,000.
But is it as simple as that?

No indeedy.

Because there are indications that maybe the events of the Old World take place at a different point in time than the 41st millennium.

The Necron Codex gives a detailed history of the rise and fall of the Old Ones before their eventual destruction, apparently millions of years before 40k's present time.

In the Warhammer rulebook it's only 15,000 years before Sigmar that the Old Ones come to the Warhammer World, leaving again around 5,000 years before Sigmar.

That's only 7,500 years before the present time of the Warhammer World.

Therefore, assuming the Old Ones were active there at the same time as they were active battling the Necrons, then the timelines don't match up. The Warhammer World current events took place in the far distant past.

Now I'd be VERY interested to hear Comments to dispute or confirm these semi-researched principles but surely, you say, I've just talked myself out of being able to have Space Marines crash land on the Warhammer World (as my Knights of Ebon Scar have).

But no!

One of the overarching principles of warp travel in 40k is that of time displacement. There are many tales of ships coming out of the warp hundreds years after they left. Or before. So my Space Marines could easily have got lost in a warp storm and found themselves washed up and crash landed on the Warhammer World.

That's more than justification for me.

And let's face it... like I said; it's just a cool idea I wanted to try out as part of an ongoing narrative campaign, so why the hell not?

The only challenge now is getting the point values right and making sure I keep my narrative descriptions of them firmly lodged in the fantasy milieu. It's just one crashed spaceship full of marines with no more coming so the impact on the Warhammer continuum should be minimal.

Let's wait and see how it develops!

What a traffic jam in a crossover between 40k & Fantasy would look like


  1. OK, fair points. But then, let's put things into a different angle: can you conceive a bunch of Bretonnian men wandering in the middle of a site full of Imperial bastions? I certainly can't. It just doesn't feel right, even if things like the Necron Codex make it seem possible. It's like having Starship Troopers fighting against King Harold II. Doesn't make sense...

  2. Yes, but the transfer isn't going in the other direction (for now). There won't be 40k terrain particularly. It's a single spaceship of Space Marines trapped on the Warhammer World with dwindling supplies and a lot of their equpiment damaged. There isn't sunnedly going to be loads of Bastions and Fortresses of Redememption.

    It's the juxtaposition of sci-fi trapped in a Fantasy world that I think will be really interesting. This has already proven very successful in various other cross-genre settings like Steam-Punk, the film Army of Darkness, the excellent film “The Spaceman and King Arthur,” etc.

  3. Well, at the end of the day, it's your campaign and your world, so you can do anything, really. Not my cup of tea, simply because I like to keep Fantasy in the medieval times and sci-fi placed in the future. Although, it can be quite amusing seeing those Empire Knights stuck in a traffic jam with a bunch of sci-fi bikers. :)

  4. When I write up the battle reports and army background I’m planning to keep it very much at a medieval level. My plan is to never refer to the Knights of Ebon Scar as Space Marines, describe their weapons and equipment using contemporary similes and treat them narratively very much like mysterious knights with strange magical weapons.

    Only the pictures will give an indication that they’re more than that. The actual locals they interact with will have no idea they’re from off-planet.

  5. Well, that seems sensible. On the other hand, no matter how damaged or weakened your 40k soldiers are, they will still be way more powerful and with access to the latest technology, like laser guns than their Fantasy foes. Even if you alter the stats to even things, it won't be realistic to see the medieval bunch winning their battles against the 40k people.

  6. On the contrary; once I get the points values correct it should be like any other game. Bear in mind that Orcs and humans have the same stats in both games and a Dwarf Handgun has the same chance of killing a Marine in Fantasy as an explosive bullet shooting Boltgun does in 40k – more actually because of the armour piercing rules.

    Also, because it is a beleaguered Marine force already on its last legs there is a good justification for having a comparatively small army. Basically it’s all about getting the points values right. There will be an achievable fair balance eventually when that is perfected.

  7. Nothing against it. You can create stats that can make the Terminator as powerful as a handful of Smurfs. From a gaming perspective it is perfectly acceptible and conceivable. What I'm not comfortable with (and again, that just me; it's your game, so you can create whatever you want) is the fact that 1. sci-fi and medieval don't mix that well and 2. a peasant with a bow and a knife doesn't stand a chance against a Necron. That's all. But hey, no one said it wouldn't be fun. On the contrary! :)

  8. On the contrary (again) my goal is to make Terminators as powerful as they should be then limit the number of them. I know what you mean but I really love the mixture of sci-fi and fantasy and as the games are compatible (with the tweaks I’m developing) it is possible for a peasant with a bow to kill a Necron (or Marine – as I don’t plan to include any other races).

    The main point to consider is that a peasant bowman costs 7 points. A Space Marine costs 30 points in my current rule set. So you have four bowmen blasting the Space Marine while he tries to blast them. Once the points are perfected it should make logical sense.

    Also, Knights of the Realm, the core Bretonnian unit, actually have a better armour save than a Marine (2+).

  9. Hi Chums,
    I really enjoyed the "Space Marines in Warhammer" article, Tim first mentioned the idea to me during a recent "Valorax" game and I thought it well worth exploring. (I fondly remember using S.M. Scouts in games of Necromunda) Although I sympathise with your opponent's concerns, I think they missed the point, it's FUN to push the boundaries and not just always play basic GW games (although nothing wrong with that of course) Also you are trying to keep it balanced - not just inventing reasons why your army can smash everything in their path. Additionally 2+ saves already exist in Warhammer !
    P.S. I think off-road Bikes can go at similar speeds to a Horse, Jump Packs probably the same but would benefit over difficult terrain as usual.
    Bye for now "Tau in Warhammer" Peter

  10. Yeah, go for it! It should be a funny sight and maybe an exciting game at the same time, who knows?

  11. Peter, I didn't miss the point, I'm just not a big fan of crossed-themes like having Fantasy and Sci-Fi mixed like this. At least on a more serious note. That said, I repeat: it should be a lot of fun.

    As for horses vs bikes, check these two videos:

    Seems like someone had a similiar idea to yours. :)

  12. the strongest arguement to my mind, that favours an amalgamation of fantasy and 40k characters is also the simplest. The 40k narrative states the existence of primative feudal worlds of little interest to the dominant races of the universe. Therefore why not set a fantasy/ 40k battle on one such world and enjoy the game, afterall games are for fun and what could be better than chain swords and poison darts in the same arena.

    1. Why thank you! I totally agree! And the games have been really interesting. More than that though, writing the Men of Stone space marines into my fantasy storyline has been a really fun challenge.